The National Road Safety Authority – NRSA together with its partners, has made recommendations as to how reporting on road carnage can help change the discourse about road safety as a public health issue, and ‘deformalize’ the prevalence of these tragic events on our roads.
At a News Editors Workshop held in Accra, journalists were advised to use the words ‘road crash’ or ‘collision’ instead of ‘accident’, as the latter conveys an undue sense of inevitability.
The workshop forms part of the National Road Safety Authority’s (NRSA) commitment to saving lives through public sensitization by educating the general public on the usage of the road; as well as fighting indiscipline and promoting sanity on our major roads.
With the media playing a vital role in national development by providing information on happenings in the country, it is only appropriate to disseminate the right information into the public domain using appropriate languages.
The first recommendation; ‘Avoid using the word accident’, urges journalists to use ‘road crash’ or ‘collision’ as the appropriate language when reporting on traffic crashes. It says road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths are preventable; therefore, the use of the word ‘accident’ leads the audience to interpret these events as unavoidable or the result of ‘bad luck’ or ‘destiny’.
The second recommendation; ‘Highlight the human element of crashes’, says headlines of road crash reports often focus on the vehicles rather than the people. This leaves out people and their actions from the story of the crash, distancing the readers from the situation.
‘Avoid victim blaming’, says blaming cyclists and pedestrians (i.e. whether or not they used a pedestrian crossing), would de-emphasize the responsibility that governments and drivers have to set, enforce and obey road safety regulations such as speed limits.
The fourth recommendation; ‘Avoid speculation’, talks about the identification of the exact causes of these road crashes which requires a comprehensive investigation.
Finally, ‘Provide context’, urges journalists to include in their report local data on the number of fatalities, injuries and overall crashes.
Meanwhile, Dr. Raphael Awua, Public Health Expert and Africa Regional Advisor at Vital Strategies, during his presentation, revealed that in every twenty-three (23) seconds a life is lost somewhere in the world as a result of road traffic crash, hence the need to see it as a public health issue.
Why kill innocent souls though unintentionally – in your quest to maximize profit by speeding unnecessarily as a commercial driver, or in your quest to arrive at your destination on time as a non-commercial driver/cyclist? Stop road crash, arrive alive and safe lives.
Story by Maxwell Woyram Tsigbe.