Drunk and driving - Christmas clamp down as police try to reduce road carnage
December has traditionally been a dangerous time for road users, but head of the Police Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, is vowing that the cops will take every measure to ensure that motorists comply with the rules this time around.
Among the motorists to be specially targeted are those who go around the steering wheels under the influence of alcohol.
According to Allen, drinking and driving is also a major contribution to road fatalities, and this is especially the case during the Yuletide season as people make merry.
He said the police do not want to spoil the fun, but he assured that officers will be out with their breathalysers to ensure that motorists do not go overboard and road users are protected.
"It is the festive season, enjoy your festivities, but ensure that it is done in a mature way, meaning that you get yourself a designated driver, somebody who is sober, to ensure that you reach home or to your destination safely. By so doing, you don't put yourself or other road users in danger," Allen told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We will be out with our breathalyser instrument and we will be remaining alert, looking at the areas where the parties are, and so we really don't want to put away anybody for the Christmas because they have been irresponsible.
"So we are sounding the warning loud and clear to be responsible in how you approach using the roadways for this Christmas," added SSP Allen, who noted that the police have in their arsenal at least 150 breathalyser devices.
According to Allen, motorists can expect increased police presence on the road as the country tries to keep traffic fatalities below the 382 recorded last year.
Up to last Thursday, 357 persons had lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes, despite several public-education campaigns and pleas for motorists to cut their speed and exercise care on the road.
"The month of December is not a very kind month to us, but so far, for this December 2016, we are feeling very encouraged," said the traffic cop as he explained that seven persons were killed in the first 15 days of this month.
"Excessive speeding, improper overtaking and drivers failing to keep left have been three of the main causes of our fatalities," he said.
The senior cop said police officers will be scaling down on administrative duties so that they can be deployed island-wide to monitor the roadways.
From all indications, it seems these officers will be kept busy as his discussion with a representative from the Island Traffic Authority has revealed that 135,000 additional vehicles have entered the road space in the last three years. Checks with several rent-a-car outlets have also revealed that all their vehicles are already booked for this month.
"We are really imploring everyone to take heed and reduce your speed, there is absolutely no need to exceed," he said.
Allen is also warning motorists to refrain from using their cell phones while driving, as he believes this contributes to road accidents. He is urging drivers to pull over if they need to make a call or send a text.
"Driving is a full-time job, meaning that absolutely nothing else ought to occupy your attention while you are the driver," said Allen.
Road use warning
The Road Safety Unit is increasing its call to motorists to reduce their speed on the nation's roads as it approaches the festive season.
This appeal comes in light of the alarming number of persons killed on the roads since January, which now stands at 357 (as at December 16).
Of the 357 deaths from 300 fatal crashes, motorcyclists, pedestrians, passenger in private motor vehicles, and drivers of private motor vehicles account for 79 per cent of road users killed to date.
Westmoreland, St Catherine, St Elizabeth and St Andrew account for 54 per cent of the overall fatalities.