Preparing the road for the Traffic Act
THE EDITOR, Madam:
Last year, Jamaica set a new record in deaths caused by road accidents. I am sure maybe a half of that number of nearly 500 could have been avoided.
We are not told how many persons have been permanently maimed and how many families have lost a breadwinner who has been made disabled for life.
I remember January of two years ago how two more could easily have been added to the death list because of defective tyres on the vehicle that caused the accident.
For years, the country has been waiting for the new Road Traffic Act, which seems to have broken down on the way and spare parts are no longer available for the 1938 model. However, let us hope that the new one will be coming this year since we have been waiting like the dragon for the monkey’s heart.
Like John the Baptist, the country should prepare the way for the new act. I hereby mention a few of what needs to be done, in addition to avoiding the potholes.
First: We need proper signage, such as speed limits, pedestrian, especially school crossings, school signs, silence zones, direction signs like the ‘finger posts’ of old, street signs, danger zone warnings, among others.
Second: There needs to be effective lane markings. This is one of the first things you notice in a developed country but are terribly lacking in Jamaica.
Third: Breathalyser, genuine fitness, insurance and other documents, excessive noise, protruding objects from the tails of trucks without proper warning, defective or improper lighting, breakdown vehicle warning, overloaded vehicles, and the list goes on, must be addressed with urgency.
PPV drivers should have some experience before being allowed to obtain such a licence. The police should not have to wait on a traffic examiner to remove a vehicle from the road with an obviously bad tyre, and it should be the duty of the police to pay occasional visits to the bus or taxi parks to look for obviously defective vehicles and have them impounded until they are rectified.
It is hoped that the new law has provisions for a driver with too many penalty points to have his licence suspended and to redo the test to drive again, with possibly heavy fine or permanent revocation of his licence if caught driving while suspended.
Since so many motorcyclists have contributed to the number of road fatalities, they need to be legally licensed like any other driver, and if caught riding without a helmet, they should suffer stiff penalties.
Finally: An education programme on the upcoming act should begin with all road users, including lectures to students in the school system, in addition to billboards and media campaigns.
Copies of the act should be made available to all persons and given to students and every driver who comes to renew his licence at the tax office.
We have waited long enough for the new Road Traffic Act, so let us hope that it is worth the wait.