Sat | Sep 23, 2017

JaRistotle’s Jottings | We deserve wreck-less, not reckless

Published:Thursday | May 18, 2017 | 5:00 AM

Last week, I spoke to the less-than-satisfactory way the police tackle safety and compliance on our roads. Although I suggested some simple and common-sense measures to better prevent accidents through improved presence and monitoring, I concede that it will take the police time to abolish tactics that are 'constable rather than commissioner'. So where do we go from here?

Most systems by design would work quite well were it not for the human factors, namely, errors and corruption. Errors we can learn from and correct. The more sustainable counter to corruption is to implement mechanisms that are steeped in accountability.

 

COMPETENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY

 

Many of the licensed drivers operating on our roads should be driving fowls, not vehicles. Do we routinely retest drivers who are involved in serious or fatal accidents? Do we have mechanisms to validate the soundness of driving examiners' decisions when recommending the granting of licences to individuals? Where a licensed driver is found incompetent to operate a motor vehicle to legislated standards, that examiner should share culpability for damage or fatalities which are directly attributable to that driver.

I would suggest a similar approach with respect to vehicle examiners. However, given that vehicles are certified based on their present condition at the examination depot, this is somewhat more challenging to enforce. Nevertheless, put mechanisms in place to randomly select and re-examine vehicles leaving the depot. Adopt similar random inspections for vehicles operating on the roads, especially public passenger vehicles. Possession of a certificate of fitness does not necessarily guarantee the vehicle is roadworthy.

 

TRAFFIC TICKETS

 

Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake recently commented on a driver who had amassed 1,402 traffic tickets since 2006, and intimated that there were other drivers in the 1,000+ club. How could these 1,000+ violators repeatedly renew their driver's licences without detection? Are traffic tickets being registered on a central system?

What is the point of issuing these tickets if the culprits retain their driver's licences and remain dangers to the rest of us? Let us face it, issuing traffic tickets is 'after the fact' and does not focus on prevention. We the people need to be safe on our roads we need wreck-less over reckless. Our lives matter!

Absurd as it is, I cannot blame the police alone. This is a systemic failure which suggests that some of our public administrators have no idea how to design and implement a meaningful road safety management system; are clueless in managing the existing system; or are deliberately undermining the system.

Now, people, let us get down to brass tacks. Each driver's Tax Registration Number (TRN) is registered on the licence. TRNs are at the heart of all transactions with the Government: from paying taxes to getting a passport, albeit that there are individuals with multiple identification documents, passports and driver's licences.

In this age of technology, there is no reason why biometric data should not be embedded in our driver's licences. This will help to prevent individuals from obtaining multiple identities, licences and the like. It will also enhance the police's efforts to readily verify the identity of drivers and to identify those with outstanding violations.

However, there are those among us who will oppose the use of biometrics. Concerns abound about the possible misapplication of such data, while others are fearful that such mechanisms will reduce their scope for skulduggery. People, in order to realise the benefits, we must be prepared to take the plunge, just like those who readily give up dem fingerprint, face-print and eye-print when dem wa'an go a foreign.

 

DATA ANALYSIS AND FORECASTING

 

Too often I hear figures outlining the number of accidents and fatalities but more meaningful data seems lacking. Information detailing where serious and fatal accidents occur, the categories of culpable drivers and types of vehicles involved, and the causes of accidents can be used to determine patterns and produce forecasts.

This approach underpins the need for the police to be more proactive. Move away from after-the-fact activities, such as ticketing, to prevention through improved presence and monitoring. Be in the right place ahead of time. Be a deterrent. Take the fight to the road hogs and stop them before they permanently stop us.

Safe travel, my people.