Drink-driving tops road accident list

National, Normal

The National, Thursday, May 5, 2011

Drink driving is the major cause of road accidents in the country, National Road Safety Council head Frank Aku says.
Aku said more than 95% of road accidents in the country were caused by the drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or pedestrians who were drunk and unaware of traffic flow.
He said the council’s investigations showed most road accidents were alcohol-related.
“Of all these accidents, 50% of the victims are young people,” Aku said.
“We are trying to establish whether there is a trend and correlation and we have come up with a database.”
Aku said from more than 2,700 road accidents reported in 2007 nation-wide, 1,400 people were hospitalised, 270 people died and another 100 people were unaccounted for with the trend expected to get worse by 2030.
He cited a World Health Organisation report indicating that by 2030, deaths caused as a result of road mishaps would be rated worldwide as the fifth largest cause of deaths apart from HIV/AIDS and others.
He said road accidents had cost the government about K500 million every year, money that should be put into good use in other vital areas.
He said the cost of ordering medicines, replacing and fixing damaged properties, servicing vehicles and paying compensation, among other things, had cost the state too much over the years.
Aku said the three major factors that lead to road accidents were poor road conditions, faulty vehicles and careless driving.
He said careless driving, which included speeding, overloading and drink-driving, was the main cause of road accidents.
Aku said lack of funding from the government was a major reason why the National Road Safety Council was restricted from effectively implementing all its planned programmes.
He said the council only received K1.5 million annually from the government for its operations and “that amount is insufficient to cater for and sustain the organisation for the year”. 
“We need about K5 million to effectively implement our programmes,” he said.
Aku said the council had come up with a good corporate plan but it would mean nothing if they did not have adequate funding.
He said his office had submitted a number of proposals to government for help in implementing some of its national projects but had received no response.
“Right now, we cannot put up a paid advertisement or put up sign boards simply because we have no money,” Aku said.
He said under the NRSC Act, they were only entitled to 5% minimum levy from Motor Vehicle Insurance Ltd (MVIL).
He said despite being a national body, the organisation was under-funded and as a result had few staff, only two provincial offices and was stalled from proactively implementing its programmes.
Aku said the council’s work was not limited to awareness and roadblocks but encompassed investigation of road accidents and liaison with other stakeholders.