Sun | May 26, 2019

JaRistotle's Jottings | Road-hogism and ineffective policing

Published:Thursday | April 18, 2019 | 12:15 AM

With each passing day, law-abiding citizens going about their business on our roads are becoming more frustrated with the rampant indiscipline and downright dangerous driving being exhibited by a growing number of road hogs.

Motorists and pedestrians alike have to be taking evasive action to avoid accidents with impatient drivers who recklessly overtake lines of traffic, break traffic lights, create ‘new’ traffic lanes and block intersections.

How can road hogs, who are not confined to taxi and minibus drivers, but include drivers from every walk of life, be so blatant in their disregard for the prescriptions of the Road Traffic Act, you ask? The answer is very simple: because they can get away with it, thanks to ineffective policing.

The Ministry of Transport and Mining Traffic Crash Update for March 2019 noted that more than 100 persons have died since the start of the year in traffic-related accidents. At this rate, we will surpass the 400 mark well before the end of the year.

Add to this the quack system for dealing with traffic tickets, where some offenders have amassed over 1,000 unpaid tickets: a quack system and quack administrators that taxpayers are paying for. Absolute rubbish.

We also need to be cognisant of the financial downside to road-related mishaps. According to the Ministry of Health, the annual medical cost resulting from road crashes is $1.8 billion, with the average cost of injury being roughly $113,000 per person. By comparison, consider the roughly $900 million collected during the ticket amnesty of 2017-2018, which made provisions for unpaid tickets going back to 2010.

Year-on-year, prevention is definitely better than cure, not just financially but also in relation to the reduction in deaths and injuries, pain and suffering.

TAXI-MANIA

It has often been said that behind the scourge of taxis and minibuses, whose hustling drivers are the bringers of havoc, are policemen rolling in dough, whether as beneficial owners of those said taxis and minibuses, or as the beneficiaries of the aptly dubbed ‘left or write’ strategy: lef a money or hold a ticket. Either way, ineffective policing is integral to the problem.

WRONG FOCUS

Then there is the overwhelming focus on speed traps. It is amazing how creative the police are when it comes to concealment in set-piece locations for this moneymaking venture of theirs. Again, the ‘left or write’ strategy is rampant. However, there is another factor to consider, and that is, for every dollar collected for speeding tickets issued by the police, a percentage goes in to police force’s coffers. So, with daily ticket quotas being imposed, is this an incentive or a conflict of interest for a force that is supposed to protect by way of prevention?

NEW APPROACH

Let’s face it, speed traps merely detect breaches rather than prevent them, and prevention is what we need as a means of protection on the roads.

Effective presence at major intersections and along major thoroughfares, executed with the same zeal given to speed traps, should be the police’s strategy. Not mere presence, I dare say, with officers glued to their cell phones while all hell is breaking loose around them, but with officers who are going to be alert and readily take appropriate action to stem the madness.

What do road hogs hate most? Having to wait. So, delay them, pull them over and let them simmer or turn them around and send them to the back of the line, with ticket in hand, of course.

It is full time that the burden of inconvenience is transferred to the road hogs rather than continuing to plague us the law-abiding users of the roads.

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