Road Accidents – Fault of the Roads or the Motorists

Last week Friday’s head on collision between a goods vehicle and a minibus on the Bexon Road, in which the bus driver and two of his passengers, a woman and baby, lost their lives is still causing ripples of anguish across the country.

While an accident of this nature is not the first of its kind on that stretch of road in recent times, the comments the accident generated have been the same whenever an accident of that magnitude occurs.

Dominating the discussion on the fatal accident are – A.  Reckless driving by Saint Lucians drivers; B. The Bexon Road is dangerous and C. Lack of traffic officers on major roads in Saint Lucia at particular times of the day and night.

Question: Is the Bexon Road a dangerous road or is it a lack of driving sense that results in vehicular accidents of this nature on the Bexon Road and other roads in the country?

Before answering the question, first ponder this: A motorised vehicle under the control of a driver who is intoxicated, who drives recklessly, who is not at one with the vehicle and who lacks road knowledge and driving sense, is a weapon of mass destruction as it can slaughter multiple persons, causing misery and anguish for a lifetime to some people.

A motor vehicle is popularly known as the poor man’s weapon of mass destruction because of the fatal injuries It can inflict on persons, and the significant damage to property it can cause.

We reiterate, a car can be classified as a deadly weapon, an instrument that can be used in a way to cause substantial, significant or great bodily injury or death.

Until all drivers in this country understand this, and the anguish a vehicle can cause, the carnage on our roads will never stop.

For the record, our roads are not dangerous, irrespective of the many potholes dotting them. The danger that is referred to roads can be found in the lack of knowledge among motorists about the roads they drive on and the destructive powers of the vehicle they drive.

It’s often said that driving a car is like handling a loaded weapon. It makes sense. A car, many times, can do as much, if not more damage than a gun. Cars and trucks on the roads can be like two-ton guided missiles as they barrel down the road.

In Saint Lucia, a lot of people know how to drive a vehicle. However, a sizeable portion of them lack basic driving and traffic sense. This is what leads to accidents, some of which are horrible, like the one last week Friday on the Bexon Road.

Note, some of our road’s infrastructure have improved, meaning they are well marked and signage depicting bends, curves and warnings to slow down are all clearly portrayed. Sadly, all this seem ineffective in stopping fatalities on our roads.

The reality is that too many of our motorists are in too much of a hurry when driving, refusing to adhere to road signage, cutting across drivers who are keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them, and generally bringing traffic to a halt due to them not following basic road and driving safety norms.

Then there are the ill-maintained vehicles, which are sure signs of trouble should the brakes fail, signal lights, back lights, headlamps not working, and engine failure occurs.

We asked: Can our roads become zero-fatality roads?

We believe they can, but for that to happen our roads need to be better policed, road infrastructure must be top-notched, and above all, the driving population must be re-educated in what matter and what does not matter when driving. This would call for better driving sense than what obtains within this country’s driving population.

These are not insurmountable objectives, but necessary ones which are quite achievable if the authorities do what’s needed.

After all, we pay a road tax for the upkeep of our roads and maintain a traffic department within the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force to serve as overseers of motorists’ use of our roads.

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