Let road safety be our top priority
Traffic accidents and road deaths are happening daily. There is no time to point fingers at any one party. Road safety is a collective effort, and motorists, pedestrians, the Ministry of Transport and the police must play their part in addressing this problem. However, enforcement of the road rules remains a top priority.
Part of the problem is the lack of patience exhibited by drivers; they are always in a hurry. Drivers increase their speed when they approach a traffic light on amber, and if it changes to red even before they get to the intersection, they continue through the intersection at very high speeds. This is very common in St James.
There are a number of intersections where drivers fail to observe the Road Code. Two such intersections exist in Montego Bay. The junction of Howard Cooke Boulevard and Alice Eldemire Drive is a danger zone. The left lane is for vehicles going on to Alice Eldemire Drive; the centre lane is for vehicles heading to Fairview; while the right lane is for motorists making the right turn to Freeport.
Drivers repeatedly approach the intersection in the middle lane and make a sharp left turn to join the single left lane. At that same intersection, drivers use the red light as a regular green light. Similar behaviour can be seen at the intersection of Howard Cooke Boulevard-Market Street intersection in the vicinity of Bay West Shopping Centre.
There is a no right turn at the intersection of Barnett Street and Howard Cooke Boulevard, yet drivers continue to make this right turn. Is this caused by a lack of public education on the part of the authorities or is it an issue of driving culture? The police need to monitor these intersections.
Factors to consider when using the road as a motorist:
1. Drivers must know how their vehicle reacts under certain road conditions.
2. Obey all traffic signals, both manned and unmanned.
3. Plan your route before you get on the road.
4. Stay focused; do not be distracted by anyone or anything inside your vehicle.
5. Maintain your distance behind other vehicles travelling in the same direction. Do not overtake unless it is safe to do so.
6. Allow yourself adequate time to get to your destination without having to speed.
Our police force is not effective in road-safety measures. It is for these reasons that a comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation of our traffic problem is needed. There are intersections where drivers have changed the rules. On the highways, drivers seek to do the same.
A body needs to be set up to red-flag high-risk and young drivers. The vehicles that these drivers operate must be easily identified by their insurance companies, the examination depot, and the tax office. Their paperwork must be designed differently and the drivers classified based on a points system.
Inexperienced and accident-prone motorists must be required to do a defensive-driving course before they are allowed to drive again.