Go beyond road safety stats
Information supplied by the Road Safety Council and the police on road accidents and fatalities is interesting but there is not enough follow-through analysis and measures to address the problem. Please allow me to elaborate on the points raised:
1. Eighteen per cent increase in the number of people knocked down and killed by speeding motorists. While there is a fair share of pedestrians who use the roads with an apparent lack of concern for their safety, it must be pointed out that our roads do not fully cater for pedestrians and cyclists. Sidewalks in our towns are either non-existent or in a parlous state of disrepair, forcing citizens to step onto the roads. Our country roads are in the most part narrow, full of potholes or poorly lit or not at all.
2. There was a four per cent increase in road fatalities in 2012. Missing is comparative information on the increase in the number of vehicles and drivers in the year and the accident rate per 10,000 or 100,000 vehicles and drivers.
3. Eighty-four per cent of people killed on the roads were male drivers while 16 per cent were women drivers. What is the ratio between male and female licensed drivers and how does this relate to fatalities?
4. Drivers and their passengers accounted for 63 per cent of total road traffic fatalities. Who/what are the other 37 per cent —pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, animals?
5. More than 50 per cent of road deaths occurred along the Uriah Butler/Sir Solomon Hochoy highways and that most accidents occur south of Chaguanas.
It is a known fact that the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway from Grand Bazaar to Wallerfield is controlled by traffic lights which act as a traffic-calming device, whereas the Uriah Butler/Solomon Hochoy highways are virtually freeways like the Autobahn in Germany. No information has been presented as to the benefits of the installation of elevated medians, cable barriers or police bays along the Uriah Butler/Solomon Hochoy highways. Another problem is that highway lighting lampposts are located on the outside whereas in other countries they are located in the median and protected by crash barriers.
6. Statistics have been provided on the tens of thousands of traffic tickets issued for use of cellphones, driving under the influence, failure to wear seat belts, defective vehicles, breach of traffic signs and the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving and tens of millions of dollars collected in fines. However, no mention was made of tickets, if any, issued for speeding which happens to the main cause of fatalities. Could it be that we have abandoned the decades old system of police officers hiding behind bushes with stop watches and waving red flags and not even graduated to radar/laser guns which are more or less redundant except for use on country roads in developed countries? The occasional road blocks and random breath tests are merely tinkering with the problem
Much of the blame for the carnage on the roads must rest with the police for their failure to enforce traffic laws but they must not be used as scapegoats because of the failure of the State to provide them with modern equipment and technology.
Much is being said about the installation of CCTV cameras but are we ready to use the technology in a meaningful way. Last year a south London borough issued over 8,000 penalty charge notices to motorist and in approximately 6,000 cases there was no human input in catching the offenders. How was it done—simply cameras and computer technology.
Unless the Ministry of Public Administration introduces a fully computerised 21st century vehicle registration system which enables a link-up with camera technologies we shall be reading the same statistics for years to come.