The death of national cyclist Roger Smart following a motor collision in Woodbrook on Friday night is another sad statistic that mocks all our grand intentions to reduce and eliminate carnage on our roads. Every loss of life is sad, especially for loved ones. But the loss of a national sporting champion who continued to give much to our youth while upholding the high values of his sport, saddens us all and cheapens life in this land.
Given our failure to rein in vehicular fatalities, it is clear that we are not getting things right. Enforcement continues to be limited by the lack of an effective physical police presence while the many technological initiatives announced by successive administrations have borne virtually no fruit. We are still without radar guns to catch speeding motorists while lawbreakers continue to flout the road codes with impunity in the confidence that they will not be caught because of the non-implementation of technological solutions for remote monitoring.
The horse has all but bolted out the stable door. The conscientious, law-abiding driver is an increasingly rare species in a national motoring culture where personal advantage is the order of the day. The calm and disciplined self-restraint needed for keeping a cool and focused head on the road is severely undermined by a culture that still sees little wrong in drinking and driving, texting and driving, breaking red lights, overtaking on shoulders, driving the wrong way on one-way roads and breaking the speed limit at will.
Clearly, many more resources need to go into both enforcement and public education, the latter starting from as early as pre-school when children pick up information and values that could last them a lifetime.
The good news is that this year’s figures for deaths on the road are less than those for the comparative period last year. At his regular media briefing last Wednesday, Police Service spokesperson Inspector Wayne Mystar reported a 15 per cent decline even as he called on the public to practise safe driving. His comments came in the wake of four road deaths over the previous weekend in which dangerous overtaking was identified as the main contributing factor.
It would appear that despite all the work being done by the police and such civic bodies as Arrive Alive!, the message of safer, more thoughtful driving is simply not getting through. Whatever the causes of delay in stepping up our game against lawbreaking on the roadways, we cannot continue to relax our defences in the battle against dangerous driving.
The Minister of Transport needs to explain the continued delay in implementing technological solutions and inform the public of the Government’s timetable for bringing on long-promised enforcement measures against dangerous driving. So many countries with much less resources at their disposal are managing to keep their citizenry relatively safe on the roads. We have a responsibility to each other to do much, much better.