Mon | Aug 21, 2017

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Are the police roadworthy?

Published:Thursday | May 11, 2017 | 5:18 AM

Road users in Jamaica have to contend with various hazards, the most dangerous being jackass drivers. 'Citizen road hog' will push even the most devout to sin in thought and word.

The lack of initiative which characterises the actions of the police on our roads does not help much. They seem devoid of ideas to address the problems. Oftentimes they drive right by, oblivious and uncaring. Are they roadworthy? You be the judge.

 

Presence

 

Most of the blatant violations of road etiquette and safety which I have seen relate to improper overtaking, creation of new lanes, and use of the sidewalk as a traffic lane. In most instances, the police are nowhere to be seen. Why? Because they are predictably positioned in areas where it is more convenient to police, such as bus depots and taxi stands. That is not where the major life-threatening violations are taking place. Go and patrol the roads, walk the beat and detect the road hogs in all their glory. Presence is the primary element in detection and is a major deterrent.

 

Breakdowns

 

It seems that wherever a car breaks down or develops a flat tyre, especially in the middle of the road, that is where it is repaired, with offenders being totally oblivious to the effect on traffic flow. What of pushing the vehicle to the side of the road? What of the police instructing them to so do, instead of driving around the problem? This is not a rocket science solution.

 

Speed traps and spot checks

 

Speed traps and the issuing of tickets seem to be a major focus for the police these days, even at 2 o'clock in the morning. Word is that they have been given quotas. Speeding is a major contributory factor in road accidents and must be addressed. However, the police's modus operandi is archaic. First, other drivers so very kindly warn you of their presence. Once past the speed trap it is almost guaranteed that drivers will speed up. If you are stopped it is hardly likely that they will do a spot check of your vehicle.

The police need to think out of the box. Set up multiple speed traps or spot checks in proximity to each other, so that when I evade one you will catch me in the other. In addition, put officers in place to deal with those motorists who flash others to warn them of your presence.

 

Traffic flow

 

Most of the traffic jams in Kingston stem from blocked intersections. What is the point of stipulating that intersections should not be blocked and then leaving it up to motorists to determine whether or not to comply? We need the police to be there to deal with the offenders and keep the traffic flowing, instead of clustering up like ants in set locations looking for meaningless breaches so that ticket quotas can be met. As my children would say, "Duh".

Focus on a major corridor, station officers at all major intersections, and direct the traffic in a coordinated manner so that flow is maintained. Since my normal route is Hope Road, past King's House to Half-Way Tree, start with that one. Then add other corridors as you go along.

 

Flashing lights

 

Why are the lights on police vehicles kept on when they are not responding to an emergency? The lights are extremely bright and affect the vision of those who are unfortunate enough to be caught next to one of them at a stoplight at night. Emergencies only, please!

 

Conflicts of interest

 

Police officers should be barred from beneficial ownership or association with all forms of public transportation. Such ownership and association are blatant conflicts of interest. Who polices them?

For instance, you may recall the accident in St Ann last year where five people were killed while a minibus was being driven by the conductor. The vehicle was reportedly owned by a policewoman. The driver did not have a driver's licence; the vehicle's drive shaft was improperly fitted, and there was no road licence or insurance coverage. Exemplary conduct by one whose duty it is to serve and protect. Bar them.

My people, drive safely and nuh mek road hog cause you fi sin.