Put the brakes on poor driving practices

 The nation’s roadways now have been curiously converted into killing fields, with reports surfacing every day of accidents and fatal crashes, only explained by “the driver lost control of the vehicle”.

Too often, we read and shake our heads as the nonsense continues. Much of the blame is attributed to the police not doing their job. But this is not entirely their fault. There is only so much they can do. Even if they were well equipped and better trained to deal with these situations, the reality is that they can’t be everywhere at once.

We as Trinidadians and Tobagonians are a very indisciplined and selfish society. We continue to skirt the rules and manipulate the system to suit ourselves, yet we are the most vicious when we are wronged. The situation on are nation’s roads today are a typical example:

• we are always in a hurry but never on time. Neither courtesy nor patience to our fellow drivers

• it seems the speed limit is to be used as a guide, rather than a limit

• hand signals are a thing of the past

• indicators are only for last-minute turns 

• hazard lights are for use in heavy rain

• the shoulder is for special people who are not obligated to wait like the rest of us

• our highways now have a “fast lane”.

Friday nights to Sunday mornings are a wrecker’s paradise and a Licensing Office’s nightmare. It is not a coincidence that leading up to the Christmas season, straight until Carnival, there is a sudden increase in the number of fatal road accidents. My humble advice is to tackle the problem at its source.

Firstly, persons seeking to attain a driver’s permit must do the following:

• be 21 years or older

• study and write a detailed driver’s exam, which will enlighten drivers of proper road regulations and practices, and includes:

• the proper maintenance of a vehicle and the proper workings of a vehicle such as what is a front-wheel-drive vehicle, rear-wheel-drive vehicle 

• checking proper oil/ fluid levels

• safely changing a flat tire, etc.

While I do believe there are responsible drivers among us who treat driving as a serious act, we are in the minority.

With the above criteria, we would see a change in the current situation on our nation’s roads, given that all licences are granted legally and the police officers enforce the necessary regulations. I sincerely believe that a driver’s licence should be treated as a privilege and not a right. These proposed regulations should ensure this. 

A vehicle in the hands of an inexperienced and immature person becomes a weapon. Until then, the carnage continues. 

Varun D Persad


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