Monday, February 19, 2018

Getting rid of road hogs

Express editorial logo426

Mark Fraser

Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz succeeded in raising the propaganda noise level by using terms such as “massive” and “phenomenal” to characterise road and traffic conditions under the improving hand of the People’s Partnership administration.

Road deaths, he told the Senate this week, had decreased 22 per cent between the Partnership’s first year in 2010 and 2013, and had fallen a further 15 per cent between early 2013 and early 2014.

If the reduction in fatalities was “massive”, then what the Government had done to bring it about must be “phenomenal”, Mr Cadiz claimed.

He was referring to highway installation of 27 kilometres of cable barriers; police deployment of 99 rapid-response vehicles, and 63 motorcycles; building highway lay-bys and targeting red-light cameras on licence plates of motorists refusing to stop.

Closer attention to the minister’s blowhard parliamentary presentation confirms that a bright, new dawn in traffic safety and enforcement remains no more than a work in preliminary, if hopeful, progress.

The “legislation does not provide for” receiving a stop-light violation ticket in the mail, he admitted.

Technological advances in speed detection and policing remain in the category of consummations devoutly to be wished. Money, as ever, is not the problem.

But Mr Cadiz owned up to the reality that road-traffic innovations expected since last Carnival are yet to take place

Propaganda adeptness notwithstanding, the minister and his Partnership will learn, maybe the hard way, that what counts in Government is less access to finance and possession of plans, but more effective combination of both in a way recognisable to the public.

So that the offender who continually drives through the red light, leaving those on green to take evasive action, will face the full brunt of the law, thanks to being caught on CCTV cameras set up at all traffic-light junctions. And his or her licence will be promptly suspended, or even permanently withdrawn, because such actions are another road death in the making.

And spouting platitudes will not get us any nearer to achieving such a lack of tolerance for road hogs. Instead, the Government of the day has to get these laws on the books without any further delay, so that the next time Mr Cadiz comes to the Parliament, he can tell us what he and his ministry have already accomplished, and not what he would like to achieve, if not for bureaucratic red tape.

But while law-abiding citizens wait expectantly for when they can be rid of having to keep a wary eye out for such reckless drivers, the number of rapid-response vehicles could be doubled, so that road users could see one every kilometre, rather than five. And until the legislation is put in place, they could be a deterrent to those uncivilised drivers who pay no heed to rules and regulations.