A digital road safety platform has been launched to help reduce the carnage on Ghana’s roads and promote sustainable transportation. The platform, named DRIFAN, was developed by the Ghana Driver & Road Safety Foundation (GDRS Foundation) with the backing of the National Road Safety Authority and Driver & Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). The official launch was performed by the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Charles Abani, the Projects & Partnerships Director of the GDRS Foundation, Madam Freda Frimpong, the Director General of the National Safety Authority, Ing. May Obiri Yeboah, with the support of dignitaries from the DVLA, MTTD of Ghana Police Service, GCB Bank, and GOIL Company Limited.
The Drifan platform enables road users to contribute to safer roads by capturing and sharing live alerts of road hazards anywhere in the country. Drifan community members could share alerts of broken down vehicles at dangerous spots, major road defects, non-functioning traffic signals, and other hazards which could lead to crashes. Additionally, the Drifan platform serves timely road safety tips and education through videos and other media to drivers and other road users. Road safety education is delivered in English as well as local languages to make it accessible to users of all literacy levels.
Drifan is a timely contribution to Ghana’s road safety efforts for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Ghana, like many other less developed countries, saw a worsening road safety situation over the period up to 2020 when the world under the umbrella of the United Nations committed to halving road traffic fatalities. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presents another opportunity for Ghana to make progress towards achieving a 50% reduction in the number of lives lost to road traffic crashes by the end of 2030. Ghana has so far lost 1,706 persons with another 9,299 suffering various injuries in 9,520 road crashes between January 1 and July 31 this year according to the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service. This represents a worse performance over the same period in the year 2020. Achieving this ambitious target requires fresh perspectives and collaboration by all road safety actors. Drifan makes a valuable contribution in this light by engaging all road users in safety action.
Secondly, Drifan is a pioneering effort in the adoption of technology in the road safety agenda in Ghana. The role of ICT in road safety has been recognised around the world leading to the development of various intelligent transport applications and warning systems to reduce road traffic crashes. With a high mobile phone penetration of about 55% and increasing data penetration as well as the growth in citizen journalism, Drifan provides an auspicious platform for crowdsourcing live road hazards reports in an efficient manner for urgent preventive action.
Thirdly, the delivery of self-paced continual driver training through videos accompanied by is ideal given the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The platform makes continual driver training less burdensome for professional drivers and rewards them with prizes for completing quizzes.
The UN Resident Coordinator applauded the developers of the platform for their work and also commended the National Road Safety Authority for fostering the partnership which has led to development of Drifan. He invited the media to support Drifan by publicising it to Ghanaians to help make it a success.
Madam Freda Frimpong, the Director of Projects and Partnerships of Ghana Driver & Road Safety Foundation, indicated that Drifan is a work-in-progress and will see many additional functionalities over time. She expressed the commitment of her organisation to helping Ghana achieve the SDG Goals on road safety and the target to halve injuries as a result of road traffic crashes by 2030.
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