Sat | Oct 19, 2019

Garth Rattray | Start with Hagley Park Road

Published:Monday | October 7, 2019 | 12:07 AM
Heavy traffic moves along Hagley Park Road, St Andrew.

Hagley Park Road is now fully active and once again being used by commuters. Already, taxi and minibus drivers are leading the way when it comes to rank indiscipline and dangerous driving.

Even when the roadway was barely drivable, even when it provided only short stretches of narrow paths of marl, gravel and stones, even when huge, perilous open holes and trenches were everywhere and heavy equipment operated all over the place, taxi men were dangerously speeding, kicking up clouds of dust and crisscrossing each other, while jeopardising pedestrians, cyclists and automobile drivers, to outdo each other in their hunt for one or two passengers.

The aggression and the ‘a we run tings’ culture are blatantly expressed on our roads 24/7. I’m hoping and fervently praying that the authorities will see the wisdom in drawing the proverbial line in the sand and instil discipline by starting with Hagley Park Road. It’s all about psychology. If strict discipline is enforced there, it can spread to cover all our public thoroughfare.

Hagley Park Road now has several traffic lights, but every single time that I venture out, I see drivers (especially taxis) ignoring the signals. They ignore stop signs, drive through the red lights, turn on the red, move off before the light turns green, and bully oncoming traffic into stopping and allowing them through.

Taxis are also doing what they always do by entering the compulsory turning lane and either obstructing it for others or placing their vehicles across the path of the other two lanes that intend to go straight ahead. I’ve witnessed a cabbie go into the compulsory right-turning lane then swerve all the way left, drive through the red and stop on the left to pick up a passenger.

Although it’s a dual carriageway, sometimes drivers can’t be bothered to drive the short distance to do a legal U-turn, so they simply drive along the wrong side of the road and force oncoming traffic out of their way.

INFAMOUS LIST

Ridiculous driving practices are unfolding and taking root. This is the same kind of insane indiscipline, bullyism and anarchical driving techniques already employed on many other roads all across the island. The notable places for transgressions are Red Hills Road, Hope Road, Old Hope Road, Molynes Road and Westminister Road, among others. I’m begging the authorities not to allow Hagley Park Road to be added to this infamous list of total lawlessness.

Certainly, the constabulary must be well aware of the hotspots for the bad driving that redefines road practices and instils the kind of behaviour that leads to our high number of motor vehicle crashes and road fatalities, but it has never managed to get a handle on the situation.

I know that we don’t have the manpower to constantly monitor all major roads. I also know about the innovative social-media system for exposing road hogs. However, there’s wisdom in establishing the Hagley Park Road corridor as a model to enforce sustained zero tolerance and then extend that control everywhere.

The authorities must take a stand or, in spite of increased ticketing and fines, there will be more crashes and the body count will continue rising on our roads. Only relatively few bikers use helmets, but I’ve never seen any prosecuted.

Aside from moving violations, the zero tolerance should be for the heavy tinting on public transport vehicles, which is only enforced periodically in campaigns. It should also go for buses and minibuses with loud music. Yes, they are back again and not being prosecuted.

Our roads have become lawless and dangerous networks of asphalt. Many drivers experience disgust and dread whenever they use them. Our citizens are suffering and dying ­needlessly. HELP!

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.