Ghana Web Online, February 24, 2023
CUTS International, a public policy think tank, has called for a review of the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels from 0.08 per cent to 0.05 per cent.
It said reducing BAC levels would lower the number of traffic incidents related to drink driving as it constituted 10 per cent of total road crashes in Ghana.
Mr Isaac Yaw Obeng, Head of Research, CUTS International, made the call during a presentation at the first meeting of the Journalist Platform on Road Safety, in Accra.
It was organized by CUTS International in collaboration with the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), with support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety and Global Road Safety Partnership.
The event was to build capacity of journalists on road safety reporting thereby supporting policy change advocacy, amendments and enforcement of various road traffic regulations to improve safety on the roads and reduce road crashes.
Mr Obeng said regular and prominent enforcement of the BAC limit was essential to reaping the full benefits of lowering the limit, adding that, whenever a violation was found, there should be “certain, prompt, and severe punishments”.
BAC is the measurement of the level of alcohol in the blood and is most commonly used to assess the degree of alcohol intoxication and predict physiological effects whiles driving under the influence of alcohol.
Mr Obeng said one of the leading causes of death and injury around the world was Road Traffic Accidents (RTC), with an estimated 13 million deaths.
He said about 93 per cent of RTC cases and injuries occurred in developing countries, with 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa listed in the top 20 RTC-prone countries for cases and casualties Mr Obeng said according to World Health Organisation (WHO), a significant risk factor for 27 per cent of all traffic injuries was drunk driving.
“As a significant risk factor, drink driving, therefore, becomes a serious public health issue. Since the amount of alcohol in the blood is directly correlated with the likelihood that a car accident will occur,” he said.
He said the behavioural consequences associated with alcohol intoxication include impaired driving, acts of aggression and violence towards self and others.
Mr Obeng said the risk of a fatal car accident increased 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.
He said intoxicated drivers were significantly more likely to speed, to be improperly seat-belted and to “drive the striking vehicle”.
Thus, the greater the BAC, the greater the average speed of the driver and the greater the severity of the accident.
Mr David Osafo Adonteng, Director-General, NRSA, said about eight people died everyday to road crashes, however, he said the narrative could change through concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
He advised the media to use every opportunity they had to create awareness on road safety and take advantage of the training to enhance reportage on road safety issues.
Mr Adonteng told Journalists that in reporting road crash deaths, only persons who had died within 30 days of a road crash should be added to the death toll.
All deaths which occurred after 30 days of a road crash were usually attributed to something else, he said.
Mr Adonteng said the abandonment of disabled vehicles by the road side was a canker, which the Authority had over the years struggled to curb.
He said, however, the NRSA was developing new solutions and would work with the Ghana Journalists Association to intensify efforts to reduce road crashes.
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