New Towing Policy To Check Breakdown Vehicles Underway

Plans are underway to introduce a comprehensive system for towing breakdown vehicles which cause rampant fatalities on roads and highways in the country. 

Records indicate that many people continue to lose their lives through road crashes involving breakdown vehicles on the shoulder of roads and highways. These avoidable deaths keep occurring despite the existence of Road Traffic Regulation 2012 (L.I 2180), which gives specific directives on the movement of breakdown vehicles.

New policy
When the Daily Graphic contacted the Director-General of the NRSA, David Osafo Adonteng, to find out what his outfit was doing about the situation, he said plans were underway to introduce a comprehensive policy to deal with the situation. 

Mr Adonteng indicated that a revised version of L.I 2180, which would be put before Parliament for approval, had made provisions for the towing of disabled vehicles from the road.

He said the L.I had provided three options for the owner of a breakdown vehicle to promptly get it towed from the road. “Under the new L.I, owners of disabled vehicles are required to remove the vehicle themselves; subscribe to a towing service such that as soon as the car breaks down, it can be removed by the service provider; or use an insurance service where the insurance company will incorporate towing services into the premium,” he explained.

He added that when vehicle owners failed to use any of the three options, the NRSA would compulsorily remove the broken-down vehicle and surcharge the owner. “The NRSA and the police will mandatorily remove the vehicle at a cost to be borne by the owner. We will surcharge them with the cost of removal and if it is stored at a place for protection, you will pay for the cost of storage,” he explained.

A Daily Graphic analysis of statistics from the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) over a 10-year period, spanning 2012 to 2022, revealed that out of the 23,490 people who were killed in road crashes, 687 of them occurred through abandoned vehicles on the road.

This constitutes nearly three per cent of the total deaths through road crashes. The records indicate that 35 people were killed through parked or disabled vehicles in 2012; 38 in 2013; 56 each in 2014 and 2015, while 2016 recorded 85 deaths. 

Similarly, 62 persons died from road crashes involving disabled vehicles in 2017; 44 in 2018; 45 in 2019, with 2020, 2021 and 2022 recording 95, 89 and 82, respectively. Juxtaposing that with the 58,156 persons killed in road crashes over the past three decades (1991 to 2023) revealed that 1,687 of those deaths could have been avoided had disabled vehicles on the shoulders of the roads been towed as required by law.

Regulation 102 (1) of L.I 2180 states that: “An owner of a vehicle or person in charge of a motorcycle or trailer who causes or permits the motorcycle or trailer which breaks down on the road to be left on the road shall give notice to the nearest police station or authorise a towing service provider within an hour, if the broken-down vehicle or trailer is located within a built-up area; and within two hours if the broken-down vehicle or trailer is within a place other than a built-up area.”

Law enforcement
The L.I. 2180 requires owners of disabled vehicles to remove them from the road in case of a breakdown. However, many motorists have flouted the law with impunity, perhaps due to the absence of an effective vehicle-towing policy. 

Mr Adonteng stressed that while the authority was working on an effective policy for the towing of breakdown vehicles, it was important for all drivers to adhere to the provisions of L.I 2180.
He said the authority would strengthen its collaboration with the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Ghana Police Service to enforce the law.
Dangerous highways
Despite the existence of L.I 2180, the Daily Graphic has observed over the past two years that major highways, including the 145-kilometre Accra-Cape Coast, 187-kilometre Aflao-Accra, and the130-kilometre Takoradi-Elubo stretches, all on the N1 highway, have become death traps due to the presence of scores of abandoned vehicles.
The story of the 126-kilometre Kumasi-Techiman road on the N10 highway; the 191-kilometre Tema-Hohoe road; and the Kintampo-Tamale and Tamale-Bolga roads are no different.
Similarly, the Accra-Suhum, Accra-Sogakope, Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayanfuri, and the Kumasi-Tamale roads are inundated with disabled vehicles that have either been abandoned at bus stops or on the shoulders and the middle of the road.
Sections of the 696-kilometre Eastern Corridor Road that stretches from Tema in the Greater Accra Region through the Eastern, Volta, Oti and the Upper East regions are also plagued with disabled vehicles. 
Vexed issue of vehicle towing
The government, acting through the NRSA, signed an agreement with the Road Safety Management Services Limited (RSMSL), a private entity, in October 2016, for the towing of breakdown and abandoned vehicles on roads.
The NRSA had announced that effective July 1, 2017, vehicle owners were required to pay a mandatory road safety fee each time they went to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) to renew their roadworthy certificates.
The fees were to be paid annually as follows: owners of motorbikes - GH¢10; non-commercial vehicles - GH¢20; taxi owners - GH¢40; mini buses - GH¢80; and heavy-duty trucks - between GH¢80 and GH¢200, depending on their tonnage.
However, this policy was resisted by members of the public for lack of proper engagement, hence there is currently no effective way of promptly towing disabled vehicles from the road to prevent crashes and fatalities.