A zebra crossing is a road marking with white stripes resembling a zebra’s pattern. It allows pedestrians to cross safely, giving them priority over vehicles and preventing accidents.
According to the Road Traffic Act, 2004 (Act 683), drivers must stop when pedestrians want to cross the road using a zebra crossing. Overtaking near a zebra crossing within 30 meters is prohibited. Drivers must yield to pedestrians on the crossing.
But is this really the case in Ghana?
However, this is not always the case in Ghana. Zebra crossings across the country have over time lost their essence. There is little or no respect for zebra crossings by both drivers and pedestrians. While drivers often speed up when they see people using the zebra crossing, most pedestrians who are impatient for a “God-sent driver” to stop most often use illicit crossings.
This negligence has led to many crashes and deaths which could have simply been avoided if these crossings were respected. It is important to note that respecting zebra crossings is not the only way to avoid road crashes and accidents, but doing so can go a long way to help ensure safety on the road. For instance, findings have shown that about 336 pedestrian crashes were recorded between 2007 and 2016 in the Cape Coast metropolis, with 15.2% of the victims dying while about 328 pedestrian crashes were recorded in 2019 in the same metropolis.
For many years, there have been several advocacies and campaigns, particularly by the National Road Safety Authority, as well as lots of write-ups on the need for Ghanaians to respect zebra crossings.
One of such recent campaigns is the “Respect Zebra Crossing” campaign being championed by blogger, Kobby Kyei.
According to Mr. Kyei, his observations on the disregard of zebra crossings pushed him to leverage his followership on his social media platforms to embark on the campaign.
With the help of some volunteers, Kobby Kyei has been to New Bortianor, Circle, Madina, and GBC to provide assistance to pedestrians using the zebra crossings and educated both pedestrians and drivers on the importance of respecting the zebra crossings.
In an interview with Citi News on Monday, Mr. Kyei said, “As a blogger who has amassed quite a number of followers on social media, I saw the need for me to use my platform to start an initiative to educate the followers and the masses who are out there. So I decided to come out with this Respect for Zebra Crossing campaign because I noticed that I am a driver myself but anytime I get to the zebra crossing, most drivers don’t respect it.”
“You will see pedestrians both old and young for hours with drivers not respecting or stopping for them to cross. Again, pedestrians themselves not using the Zebra crossing but trying to cross using other avenues and not even using the overpass.”
Mr. Kyei said the campaign has had some celebrities’ endorsement and urged all and sundry to also get on board in order to safeguard lives and ensure orderliness and discipline on the country’s roads.
“I have had celebrities coming on board to have an endorsement for me. I have had Joselyn Dumas endorsing it, I have had Ohemaa Mercy, I have had Adjetey Annan, I have had Medikal, I have had Martha Ankomah, I have had Peter Ritchie, I have a host of others who have come on board to endorse it and I am looking forward to drive this campaign to the end of the year.”
“I am also urging the authorities in charge of our roads, the Ministry of Roads and Highways, also to the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD), the Ghana Police Service (GPS) and all other departments that are making sure that the laws on our roads are being ensured can also be a part of this initiative,” he stated.
Mr. Kyei proposed that more public awareness campaigns be initiated to educate both drivers and pedestrians about the importance of zebra crossings and the right of way through posters, social media, and community events.
Again, he called for the stricter enforcement of traffic regulations by the MTTD and the police to discourage drivers from violating pedestrian rights and impose fines for violations.
“Ensure clear and visible zebra crossing markings with proper signage at strategic locations. Enhance visibility during low-light conditions through reflective materials. Invest in pedestrian-friendly infrastructure like sidewalks, crosswalks, and pedestrian islands to encourage safe crossing behaviour.”
“Involve local communities and organizations in promoting pedestrian safety and respecting zebra crossings. Collaborate with schools, businesses, and resident associations. Organize pedestrian safety workshops and involve citizens in suggesting improvements and solutions for safer crossings,” he stated.
Proposing the usage of smart traffic lights or pedestrian-activated signals to improve pedestrian safety and make drivers more aware of pedestrian crossings, Mr Kyei further recommended the implementation of reward programmes or incentives for drivers who consistently follow road safety rules, including respecting zebra crossings.
“Include pedestrian safety awareness in driving schools and license renewal programmes to reinforce the importance of zebra crossings. Work with public transport authorities to ensure drivers of buses and taxis are trained to respect pedestrian crossings,” he added.