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DEADLY DRIVERS

Police: Over 1,000 killed on roads since 2008

By Gyasi Gonzales gyasi.gonzales@trinidadexpress.com

Trinidad and Tobago's roads became deadlier for the country's citizens in 2012, with an 18 per cent jump in the number of people who were knocked down and killed by speeding motorists.

Last year, there was a four per cent overall increase in road fatalities compared to 2011.

One hundred and eighty-nine people died on the country's roads in 2012, up from 181 in 2011.

What is even more shocking is that from 2008 to 2012, 1,060 people died on the roads of Trinidad and Tobago, according to calculations by the Express from police data yesterday.

For the new year so far, five people have lost their lives in road traffic accidents.

The chilling figures were given by Police Constable Brent Batson of the Road Safety Council, who, along with Assistant Commissioner of Police Raymond Craig, addressed reporters yesterday during the weekly police media conference at the Police Headquarters, Port of Spain.

Batson also delivered other disturbing figures with regard to fatalities on the nation's roads.

For instance, the data showed male drivers were more likely to be killed on the nation's roads than female drivers.

Fatalities by gender indicated that 84 per cent of people killed on the roads were men while 16 per cent were women.

More than 50 per cent of road deaths occurred along the Uriah Butler/Sir Solomon Hochoy Highways.

Drivers and their passengers accounted for 63 per cent of total road traffic fatalities.

Batson reminded the public yesterday that speed, alcohol and cellphone use were some of the main causes of accidents.

"People often say that they got into an accident because of a bad drive, but at the end of the day, it is the speed at which one drives and how much you press that accelerator that determines the outcome of the accident," explained Batson. "You cannot say that people don't know better."

He said even if road conditions were poor, it was always up to the motorist to adjust his or her driving to suit the roads.

Batson said the poor driving habits of Trinidadians and Tobagonians added revenue to the nation's coffers, with the police's South-Western Division record of 6,595 traffic tickets issued to the tune of $5,133,300 last year.

The police Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch also issued $1,638,000 in tickets to motorists who were caught using their cellphones while driving.

In 2012, the Central Highway Patrol Unit issued a total of 5,088 traffic tickets, totalling $4,639,550.

Batson said 669 motorists were hauled before the nation's courts charged with driving under the influence of alcohol last year, and the top five most ticketed offences were for failure to wear seat belts, no or defective vehicle identification lights, no headlights, breach of traffic signs and the use of hand-held mobile devices while driving.

With several Carnival fetes scheduled this weekend, Batson reminded road users, including pedestrians, to practise more responsibility.

He suggested motorists should stop and rest if they were tired, think before they drink, reduce speed when approaching pedestrians, and pedestrians should only attempt to cross a road when it was "absolutely" safe to do so.

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