Declare war on dangerous roads
Years ago, in safety training workshops, we were taught that there were two causes of accidents: One was the unsafe condition, and the other, the unsafe act. Some unsafe conditions we can improve, while there are others we can do little about.
The unsafe act is a question of how we behave to meet the unsafe condition, and Jamaicans, generally, are not top of the world when it comes to dealing with unsafe conditions. This is amply demonstrated by the way some drivers behave on the roads that we wonder if they have kamikaze intentions.
Our roads fit the category of the unsafe condition (as some were originally cattle tracts) and that is why Minister Warmington needs to declare war against these conditions immediately. This is going to be a long war, and he needs to throw everything he has into this effort or he will lose the war.
SOME UNSAFE CONDITIONS
- Potholes like stars in the skies: The minister should realise that many of these are caused by shoddy and substandard workmanship in road construction in the first place. He needs to stop this practice and employ competent engineers to construct or repair roads and insist on quality control and warranties, or we will not have a pothole-free Jamaica in a hundred years, much less three.
- Lane marking: The absence of this is one of the first indicators of an undeveloped country. Marked lanes are of great assistance, especially to older drivers.
- Signage: This is woefully inadequate, both in terms of driving advice or finding a location. We talk about community tourism, forgetting that signage plays a vital role.
- Precipices: Too many precipices are unmarked or without barriers, and many lives are lost because of this.
- Sand trap for Spur Tree Hill: At least one should be constructed below the All Seasons restaurant on the hill to assist in stopping runaway vehicles. In addition, revisit the unfinished south coast road from Alligator Pond to Milk River. This would not only provide an alternative route for large trucks, but would open that beautiful area for development. At the same time, do not forget the Kingston to St Thomas road and to plan another from Coleyville to the north coast.
- Roads dug up by utility companies: This must be addressed urgently, and suitable punishment must be meted out to the offenders.
- Community roads: Most of these are in terrible shape. At least give the suffering residents some comfort by repairing them. The dust and stagnant water perhaps cause as many deaths as the careless drivers on the roads. Also, construct sidewalks during the process of repair.
- Flashing red traffic lights: Some countries programme some of their red lights to flash at certain late hours, allowing motorists to drive through cautiously instead of long stops, creating opportunities for criminals to pounce on motorists.
- Finally, the new Road Traffic Act is spending far too long in the womb and should have been born a long time ago. But on the other hand, what good will it bring if, like its predecessor and other laws in Jamaica, it is not enforced.