CUTS International Accra (CUTS Ghana) and the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) have called for the revision and enforcement of the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level in drivers from the current 0.08mg/ml to between 0.02mg/ml and 0.05mg/ml.
The call comes on the back of data which indicates that one of the leading causes of road crashes in Ghana is drunk-driving or driving under the influence of alcohol. Such incidents can result in catastrophic outcomes, causing serious injury or even death, as well as significant financial losses.
Road traffic crashes are a major health problem globally and cost most countries three per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In June 2022, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that approximately 1.3 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
Ghana, in particular, has been grappling with road traffic crashes and is among the African countries with the highest number of incidents. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention lists fatal road injury as one of the top 10 causes of death in Ghana.
In light of this, CUTS Ghana and NRSA have organised a capacity building workshop for journalists on the reportage of road crashes in Ghana. The workshop aimed to educate and train journalists on how to appropriately report on road crashes in the country. It also aimed to increase advocacy on road crashes with the goal of pushing policy makers to implement policies aimed at reducing road traffic crashes in the country.
Studies have shown that the risk of a fatal crash occurring under the influence of alcohol increases significantly at 0.05mg/ml and above. At this level, all drivers are said to be impaired regarding driving performance. As such, most countries across the globe have revised their BAC limit to 0.05mg/ml to reduce the risk of road traffic crashes.
The behavioural consequences associated with alcohol intoxication include impaired driving, acts of aggression and violence towards self and others. These attendant behavioural impairments are a result of several factors including the BAC and the rate of alcohol metabolism.
Consequently, the risk of a fatal car crash increases exponentially with a driver’s BAC as a result of the diminished capacity of drivers while intoxicated to operate motor vehicles and the increased propensity for risk-taking behaviour. Intoxicated drivers are significantly more likely to speed, to be improperly seat-belted and to drive the striking vehicle. The greater the BAC, the greater the average speed of the driver and the greater the severity of the crash.
While recent data from the National Road Safety Authority indicates that road crash incidents during the first five months of 2022 in Ghana reduced by 4.67 per cent, about 1,140 persons died during the same period. Therefore, there is an urgent need for policies aimed at reducing road traffic crashes in Ghana, including the revision of the Blood Alcohol Concentration level in drivers.
Given the significant impact of road traffic crashes on human life and economic activity, stakeholders should be proactive in addressing the issue.
Measures such as the revision of the BAC limit, strict enforcement of road safety regulations, investment in road infrastructure, and public education on the dangers of drunk driving can help mitigate the risks associated with road traffic crashes. By working together, stakeholders can ensure that Ghana’s roads are safer and more secure for all road users.
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