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35,000 vehicle accidents a year

Transport Minister gives grim statistic:

By Verdel Bishop

THERE are 35,000 motor vehicle accidents a year and almost 200 road deaths annually in Trinidad and Tobago.

Minister of Transport Chandresh Sharma gave the grim statistics yesterday at Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain during the National Road Safety campaign breakfast meeting hosted by his Ministry, in conjunction with the Ministry of National Security and Ministry of Local Government.

Various stakeholders were also on hand to give their views and discuss ways in which road fatalities can be reduced.

According to Sharma, there are already too many.

"This small island has seen 35,000 motor vehicle accidents a year and more than 200 road deaths over the last few years. That is too many. It means that we are not doing something right and we are doing too many things wrong. Among those fatalities are children.

"A number of persons have to stay away from work because they are recovering—they lose limbs, they are flooding our hospitals and our loved ones have to stay home from work to take care of them. It is feared that based on current world trends, by 2020, 20.8 million people will die on the roads (worldwide). More than 1.3 million people die on the road each year; one in five being a child," Sharma said.

He noted that this country has a lot of work to do to curb road fatalities.

"We have to start this campaign based on our behaviour, our attitudes and how we carry about ourselves."

Minister of Housing and Environment Dr Roodal Moonilal said there were 188 road fatalities last year.

"If we multiply 188 people by at least five families you will get somewhere in the vicinity of 900 persons. If we look at that in terms of a year we would see that one person dies on the road every 48 hours, which is astonishing. It therefore means that something has to be done."

Moonilal said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is committed to the awareness programme.

"Within the coming days there will be more emphasis on the road. We will concentrate on the Churchill Roosevelt and the Audrey Jeffers highways in a vigorous way.

"We have also seen within the last month an upsurge in driving under the influence and speeding. We will continue our drive...we will impact speeding in a vigorous way," said Moonilal.

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