The spot fine system to discipline reckless drivers will take off by the middle of this year, after almost two years of its planned introduction.
Under the new system, to be implemented jointly by the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), the Ghana Police Service and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), drivers who flout road regulations could have their licences revoked after six offences.
The spot fine offences
In all, there are 38 offences that will attract spot fines.
They include jumping the red light, driving without fastening the seatbelt, driving without license, using the wrong license for the wrong vehicle, speeding, failure to carry a fire extinguisher, refusal to renew a roadworthy certificate, use of unspecified tinted glass, driving a vehicle without reflectors at the back, failure to wear protective clothing while on a motorbike, driving on the shoulders of the road, talking on phone while driving, the use of foreign driving licenses, obstruction of intersections or pedestrian crossing.
A driver who commits a road traffic offence will pay a minimum of GH¢60 as spot fine for each offence and cough up GH¢480 or 40 penalty units for five offences.
Announcing the plans for the introduction of the system at a press conference in Accra, the Director of Planning at the NRSC, Mr David Adonteng, urged drivers to keep their minimum offences below five times to “avoid being sent to court for prosecution, which could lead to a higher fine, imprisonment, suspension or revocation of driver’s licence”.
The system was scheduled to be introduced last year but was suspended because of procurement challenges and public outcry over the possibility of its abuse by the police.
However, the Director of Education, Research and Training at the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service, DSP Alexander Obeng, said all the challenges had been addressed, except administrative issues that were being ironed out with the stakeholders.
How the system works
According to him, the system was such that its database would be linked to that of the DVLA’s drivers and vehicles register and a policeman in any part of the country could easily get access to the particulars of a driver.
“After the fifth offence, the system shuts down on you and you’ll be sent to court for prosecution,” he said.
Policemen would not handle money; rather, offenders will pay their fines at commercial banks and post offices across the country.
Concerning the period within which the penalty could accumulate against a driver, DSP Obeng said the period remained a sticky point that was being discussed.
“The argument is in favour of two years for which you could have a clean slate or after the renewal of your licence. This is still being discussed,” he said.
Review of 2014 accident figures
The occasion was used to review the performance of the NRSC in 2014 and the carnage on the country’s roads.
According to NRSC figures, there were 13,133 road accidents in the country last year, involving 20,442 vehicles and causing injury to 11,328 people and killing 1,856 people.
According to Mr Adonteng, the NRSC had projected that some 1,730 people could die in road accidents last year, noting that the figure recorded was slightly higher than the projected figure.
He, however, observed that the NRSC projected injury numbers were lower than those recorded.
While the commission projected 4,797 injuries last year, it recorded 4,551, a trend that started in 2011.
In 2015, the NRSC estimates that about 1,590 people could lose their lives on the country’s roads, with 4,473 others being at risk of sustaining injuries.
Going forward, the Executive Director of the NRSC, Mrs May Obiri Yeboah, said the commission was working out modalities to institute towing services.
As part of the arrangement, car owners would pay a specific amount during the renewal of their roadworthy certificates or registration of their vehicles for towing when they (car owners) needed that service, at no extra cost, she said.
She asked all road users to adhere to road safety regulations, since road safety was a collective responsibility.
In a related development, the NRSC has presented three speed radar guns and 12 alcometers to the police.
The items, valued at GH¢270,000, were purchased with funds from the Ghana Road Fund and the insurance industry.