Honesty is always a good policy .The benefits may not be seen immediately, but, the evidence will prove that there is much more long term, wholesome gain, from honest principles. Our little heaven on earth is swamped with corruption and it affects all aspects of our daily existence. A lot of the ills which befall us as a people may be traced to the scourge which threatens our existence as a democratic state.
Not to lose focus, my concern is with the number of road fatalities we have annually. It has been stated that over 35 million persons have been killed worldwide since the invention of the motor vehicle. That is an alarming figure and we are playing our role in adding to that statistic. We are a nation of roughly 3 million people, and every effort should be made, to improve the life span or the life expectancy of our most valuable asset, – our human resources. Let us assume for once that we are willing to make a concerted effort at reducing the number of road fatalities we have annually.
To achieve long term success the following measures may be considered :
• Remove and prosecute all the unscrupulous Examiners from the examination depots island wide. Efforts have been made in this regard before but they were not as comprehensive, or as far reaching as they should have been. It is an uncontested fact that, a large number of individuals are still receiving driver’s licenses without even entering the depot. Driver’s licenses are still being ‘bought’ at examination depots throughout the island. In essence, Examiners are responsible for issuing licenses to individuals who, in some cases, are not able to read or write and as such they endanger both themselves and other road users when they take charge of an automobile.
• Implement legislation to ensure that only properly registered entities are allowed to collect cash from individuals for driving lessons. These entities should be monitored and random, routine checks done on personnel and instructors to assess competence.
• Repair and maintain the roads island wide. Too often we read reports of accidents resulting from persons swerving to avoid the huge craters which appear in our roads after years of neglect.
• Remove or fence off dangerous trees, posts etc from roadways (roadside) and erect barriers along roadways which have a steep drop. It has been reported by the BBC that collisions with trees are responsible for over 1600 persons being killed in Germany annually. Locally, we occasionally see accidents involving motor vehicles which plunged from precipices or cliffs, devoid of retaining barriers.
• Place vehicles involved in accidents, along areas considered trouble spots as a stark reminder, to show motorists what may happen if and when they fail to obey the rules of the road. Nothing replaces a wake up call!
• Increase or resume random alcohol testing (for drivers) with an automatic three month suspension applied when persons are found in breach of accepted standards.
• Construct more overhead crossings and pedestrian crossings, monitored by crossing guards, in areas with a high traffic density.
• Construct flashing light, police monitored, school zones to enforce 15 mph speed limit in school zones.
• Utilize Closed Circuit TV and speed monitoring devices along particular sections of roadway which would generate tickets for speeding motorists from license plates to be mailed to addresses.
• Increase police patrols or police presence on road ways identified as areas of concern.
• Organize state funded, drivers education programs at the examination depots where persons may attend various workshops to improve driving skills and learn defensive driving techniques.
• Implement a program in all parishes to address the ‘need for speed’. This may take the form of state operated race or drag strips which are open 24 hrs, accessible to all who want to race or test their machines. The program would include scheduled sessions with professional racers, driver development programs and regularly held race meets for example every Friday night or on weekends for prizes and trophies. All would be allowed to participate in a ‘run what you brung’ affair. These happenings will be conducted under the supervision and participation of members of the police force assisted by volunteers from the parishes or communities.
Also charge an entrance fee for drivers and spectators alike.
As I indicated at the outset these measures are predicated on the stance that we really want to effect changes. No more lives wasted, no more condolences to send. Let us work together to tame the animal, which road fatalities have become, before it bites again.