Be Road-wise – Slow Down

Image: Traffic along the Castries-Gros Islet highway.

WITH seven road fatalities already recorded for the year, the debate for a serious approach to road usage by motorists and pedestrians have come to the fore. Seven lives lost and many left injured do not even begin to quantify the indelible psychological toll such incidents leave, especially on those directly affected.

There is need for a serious audit of the country’s road network. For example, in many areas, there is the virtual lack of proper signage indicating to motorists important information related to speed limits, pedestrian crossings and other directions. Unfortunately, there are also cases where either vegetation or unscrupulous vendors with huge stalls have made some signage invisible.

Some years ago, the police expressed concerns that speeding was indeed one of the many issues it aimed at clamping down on. The issue was so serious that radar equipment to detect speeding motorists was supposed to have solved — if not all – the problems. However, that idea seems to have fallen as flat as a tyre.

There is no denying that speeding on our roads has reached an uncontrollable problem due to steps hardly ever being taken to solve the problem. Especially with our road network being unable to accommodate the litany of vehicles being imported to the island – one government minister estimated that figure to be nearly 300 vehicles per month – traffic congestion has grown. The result is that many motorists often either try to make up for lost time or get away from the long queues to be on schedule. Quite often, the result is deadly.

Those who use public transport can attest to minibus drivers using speed as a means of outdoing their counterparts to get as fast as they can and rake in as many passengers as they can before returning to the bus stand to refill and repeat the exercise. Many passengers can also attest to being chided by bus drivers who prefer that passengers get off their buses when told that they should slow down.

Given the fast-paced world in which we live, the focus seems to always do what we can in the shortest possible time. While that reality serves to test our efficiency, there should be no excuse for disobeying the rules of the road just to get to our destinations at any cost. Even ambulance drivers are mindful of the rules when they are in emergency situations, so the rules must apply to everyone.

Like time, life is a precious gift worth cherishing. But we must learn to appreciate that being late and alive and unhurt trumps the alternative. More thought and effort must also go into having traffic police patrol especially our highways as was the case two decades ago. We must endeavour to do everything in our power to not only keep our road safe but protect life at all cost.

At some point, we need to slow down and see the value of life and not simply getting to our destination at any cost. Accidents will occur, but they are sometimes preventable.

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