Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Letter of the Day | Sky-high traffic fines won't change behaviour

Published:Friday | October 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMMark Campbell


With the deaths of our people on the roads, the instinct is to impose harsher penalties to compel compliance based on our history. But, without more analysis to understand and treat with the reasons behind the realities, we will not see the improvements we desire as greater punitive measures have never proven to be a deterrent.

Former opposition senator Arthur Williams echoed related logic when he said that the speed limits needed to be reviewed as they had been the same since 1938. He went on to point out that vehicles had improved and the laws should be changed to match the latest developments. When last have you driven or seen a vehicle that is not defective going at 20km for any protracted period? These unreasonable requirements just add further to a culture of ignoring the law as they are considered to make no sense.

According to international research, "Dealing with the prevention and reduction of road accidents commonly refers to three approaches, namely, environment engineering solutions, education, and enforcement." Yet we attempt to focus almost exclusively on enforcements.

Interestingly, though, the data don't conceive of enforcement the way we tend to do. "The primary focus for successful enforcement should be on increasing surveillance levels to ensure that perceived apprehension risk is high," continued the international research.

It's time for us to stop giving entities like the National Road Safety Council a free pass for its failure to effectively educate and influence behavioural change. The National Works Agency must also be called out for its failure to effectively zone, and provide signage and traffic lights that could help to save lives. And the Jamaica Constabulary Force has displayed an inability to have a sustained and adequate presence on the roads to deter violations and promote safer use of the public spaces.

If we continue to give these free passes, we will find that the cost of their failures will be passed on to us in increased punitive fines, which highlight an immorality in which not wearing a seat belt could attract a greater fine than betrayal of public trust.