Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Letter of the Day | Build a better road culture

Published:Friday | September 29, 2023 | 12:05 AM


Road killings in Jamaica are an existential threat not only to animals, but also to humans. A Spanish teacher at Savanna-la-Mar Primary School recently died in a road collision en route to school in Font Hill, St Elizabeth.

One of the most pernicious challenges is to get drivers to become road–rule conscious and drive within speed limits, especially on bad roads. I fear there is going to be more carnage on the roads if corrective steps are not taken. I fear going on the road. I see some bus drivers speedily overtake on blind corners, disobey the speed limit, swerve indiscriminately from potholes in a recklessly endangering lives.

The statistics on road deaths is troubling. Since the beginning of the year, over 230 lives have been lost. The examination depots should be more stringent in issuing licences, and the police should do periodic road checks to curb improper overtaking, speeding, check on tyre quality, and test to see if drivers are driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, etc. I think the relevant government department should take urgent steps in mitigating road carnage. I propose a few ideas:

· Increase fines exponentially;

· Suspend or revoke licences based on frequency of violations;

· Enforce mandatory seat belt usage for all passengers;

· Mandatory use of helmets for all motorcycle/ bicycle riders;

· No overloading of public passenger vehicles;

· Put up bold, visible and laminated signs along the way so drivers can be reminded of road conditions;

· Heavy penalty for the use of cell phones while driving.

Another factor affecting road accidents that needs to be addressed is the uncontrolled roaming of animals along the thoroughfares. Earlier this week, it took me precious minutes to navigate a herd of cattle which were on the main road leading to Point Hill, the same area where the teacher died. How can the cattle owners be so careless? Besides, when accidents take place the owners are hard to be found. This culture needs to be corrected. Maybe the powers that be at the municipal corporations need to returning to the system of cattle registration and branding; and maybe the old days of animal pounding should be revived.

There needs to be a media blitz to educate and re-educate the public on responsible road use. This we can achieve by utilising television, radio, social media and billboards to create national awareness. We need to build a safer road culture.