While the number of fatal road traffic accidents for the year so far has decreased when compared to the corresponding period for 2013, acting Insp Wayne Mystar, public information officer for the Police Service, took the opportunity Wednesday to send a message to the public to reinforce road safety tips.
Mystar was speaking at the weekly police news briefing at the police administration building, Edward Street, Port of Spain. He noted that improvement of road safety in this country was one of the Police Service’s strategic goals, and as a result, although the police have observed a reduction in the number of fatal road accidents—a 19 per cent decrease from 32 deaths to 26 deaths for the periods January 1 to March 5, for 2013 and 2014 respectively —Mystar said even one death was simply one too many.
As a result, in giving his advisory, he explained that the police continued to observe most accidents were caused by either alcohol intake, speeding or sleep deprivation.
“As it relates to alcohol, difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, and impaired memory, clearly show alcohol affects the brain. Some of these elements are detectable after one or two drinks. Even if you are driving slowly, alcohol will restrict your ability to have proper judgment. You may not get into an accident but you can potentially cause one.
“As it relates to speed; generally you will hear motorists speaking about a fast lane and slow lane on the highway. I say now, there is no such thing as a fast lane or a slow lane. But what is factual, is there is a speed limit. On the highway the speed limit is 80 km/h and in built up areas it is 50 km/h. These speed limits were tried and tested before they were implemented and it was shown that, if adhered to, they give the driver the ability to successfully control any vehicle in the event of any unforeseen actions such as a bad drive or blown out tyre. However, exceeding the speed limit will not afford such control.
“As it relates to sleep deprivation; in a modern day society sleep deprivation is a common place occurrence. Everyday there seems to be twice as much work and half as much time to complete it. This results in extended periods of wakefulness or a decrease in sleep over extended periods of time.
“While some people may like to believe they can train their bodies not to require as much sleep as they once did, this belief is false. Sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the brain. Behind the wheel of a vehicle is no place for a driver who has been deprived of sleep,” Mystar said.
He said he believed once proper practices were adopted by the general public as it regarded these three elements, he believed this country would see a drastic reduction in the number of road traffic accidents, whether fatal, serious or minor.
“The Police Service is doing its part and we are asking the members of the public to do theirs and together let’s arrive alive,” Mystar said.