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Drivers who take hard drugs to stay alert will end up losing attention while driving – Medical practitioner

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A medical practitioner, Dr Hannah-Lisa Tetteh, has stated that drivers who resort to hard drugs to stay awake while driving, eventually lose attention.

According to her, the use of drugs to stimulate alertness, has adverse implications in the long run.

Speaking in an interview with Blessed Sogah on The Pulse on Tuesday, she explained that, in as much as substances such cocaine may be able to keep an individual in an extremely conscious state, they also come with negative consequences.

“Most of these drugs have a span within which they work, so the general one, according to studies, is five to ninety minutes.

Within which period you can be alert, you’re excited and you feel like you can do everything. You feel like Superman or Spiderman or whatever cartoon character is a hero to you.

You feel like you can do everything and anything. But then the danger is that right after this period, you’ll start feeling signs of depression. So then everything tips down. You become agitated, you become very paranoid, you lose your attention and all the other negative things that come with it.

So in as much as you feel that you are alert, within a period, you will realise that you can’t make the right decisions, you can’t focus, you’re inattentive, and that’s when you begin to make decisions that go against you or the other people that are involved’, she explained.

She further stated that, drugs that stimulate alertness can also make drivers agitated to the point that, they may start over speeding, during their journey. She added that, the drugs also have the potential of making drivers react in a hostile manner to their passengers.

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Touching on what drivers can do to keep them alert on the road and enhance their vigilance, she advised that drivers must cultivate the habit of having enough rest and good food during the day.

Dr. Tetteh, who is also the host of Health and Vitality on JoyNews, further admonished drivers to stop trying to ‘cheat nature’, by compromising their sleep hours for work.

The comments from Dr. Tetteh was on the back of reports from the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) that some of its drivers consume alcohol and cocaine-laced toffees to stay alert while travelling on long-distance journeys.

General Secretary for the GPRTU, Godfred Abulbire revealed this during an interview with Evans Mensah on Newsnight, on Monday.

He noted that although the Union has received such reports, it is yet to apprehend any driver who is culpable.

“Like you were talking about drunk driving or whatever, persons at the point of departure may not drink. Halfway, they stop and enter some spots and take some drink. I can say that some members within the North in the Upper East coming to Tamale and Kumasi were banned.

But the situation now is becoming more than we expected…not even alcohol alone, I remember somebody called me and said, have I heard of this toffee that is made of cocaine or whatever, and I said I have never seen, but some way, I have heard about it”, he said.

Mr. Abulbire urged passengers to report drivers who may be found guilty of such acts.

He said the GPRTU would position itself to get evidence against drivers who are involved to ensure appropriate action is taken against them.

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“It is not easy to get them until it happens. That’s why I said that we need to empower the passengers onboard every car. The passenger should be bold enough to report such situations when they see it.

“We haven’t gotten one, any driver or group who are involved and the evidence provided, we can take drastic measures against such a driver”, he stated.

Mr. Abulbire stressed that the Union will henceforth not take such reports lightly.

Meanwhile, the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) has said it will hold the Union accountable for any misbehavior from members of the GPRTU.

“They are required to ensure that their drivers are well-trained. They must put in place systems electronically or otherwise to check these things. If they don’t, the law mandates us to notify them in the first place for a period for them to comply or we can go to the extent of halting their operations until they comply with the rules and regulations”, Acting Director of the NRSA, David Adonteng told Evans Mensah on Newsnight.

However, Godfred Abulbire disagreed with the NRSA’s threat to hold the Union accountable instead of the individual drivers.

“When you say human error, it means the person who was on the steering wheel did not comply with road safety measures and as a result caused the accident. Now, if you leave that person and come to hold the Union liable for his errors, which we have described as human factor…in this case, holding the union itself or closing down the station, how far will that change the behavior of persons driving”, he asked.

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