Potholes and Unpainted Speed Bumps

This week we focus on two drawbacks to a smooth ride on our roads – potholes and unpainted speed bumps, which if not regularly maintained could be a motorist’s nightmare.

While we can theorise and reach a logical understanding why potholes are plentiful on our roads, especially our main thoroughfares, we cannot yet understand, despite how much we try, how speed bumps could remain unpainted for so long knowing how dangerous the unpainted ones could be if not seen early enough by drivers (and passengers).

We acknowledge that speed bumps were painted at the time they were placed across roads, but like anything which is prone to wear and tear, and at the mercy of the weather, the paint will fade transforming some of them into chameleons.

A chameleon is a type of lizard that can change the colour of its skin to look like the colours that are around it. Speed bumps when stripped of their paint, will look like part of the road, especially at night. Herein lies the danger to motorists who are unaware of unpainted speed bumps at certain points on certain roads.

To be fair, speed bumps do play a positive role when it comes to road safety, meaning they are designed to slow down vehicles and improve safety on our roads, particularly by schools, hospitals and commercial hubs. They are mainly raised sections of concrete or asphalt, usually inches in height, placed across the width of certain roads that force drivers to slow down to navigate over them.

We support the argument that speed bumps can reduce the risk of accidents and improve overall road safety by slowing down vehicles, encourage drivers to be more cautious and aware of their surroundings and are flexible and adaptable solutions for managing traffic.

However, let’s not forget the discomfort unpainted speed bumps can cause drivers and passengers travelling, at speeds beyond the designated speed for speed bumps, in a vehicle with a low suspension, especially if those speed bumps are not seen by the drivers. The potential damage vehicles can sustain to their suspension and other components can be an expense to the owner/s of such vehicles.

As a result, we urge the Ministry of Infrastructure to ensure that all speed bumps are brightly painted to reduce vehicular damage and discomfort to motorists who pay large sums of money directly to government to use the roads in this country. Such monies come from the tax government collects on fuel, vehicle license fees and driver license fees and above all on duties collected upon the importation of vehicles. Government also benefits from motor vehicle insurance companies, albeit indirectly, through the taxes such companies pay.

Regarding potholes, which come in various sizes, they too can cause significant damage to vehicles and pose a danger to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Although small potholes rarely cause major accidents, a vehicle hitting a lot of them over time, can damage its tyres, suspension and steering system.

Of interest is an article from the BBC titled “Potholes: What are they and why are they dangerous?”

A pothole, according to the BBC article, is a depression or hollow in a road surface, caused by ground water and traffic. The article noted that there are currently more than one million potholes in the UK and that on average there are about six potholes per mile on council-controlled roads in England and Wales.

It would be interesting to know how many potholes there are per mile of road in Saint Lucia. We can venture a guess to say it is far more than six. And what about compensation to motorists who experience damage to their vehicles due to a pothole or unpainted speed bump? Is there any recourse?

Potholes are a perennial issue for motorists in Saint Lucia. The Government of Saint Lucia, over the years, seems unable to keep this issue under control, thereby reducing its road maintenance programme to a joke in the eyes of many citizens.

We hope that government will start its road maintenance programme earlier this year than in previous years so as to bring relief to motorists, cyclists and road users in general.

With potholes and unpainted speed bumps being of high concern to motorists, we are of the view that they should be the Ministry of Infrastructure’s number one priority on its road maintenance programme list, and ensure that such repairs are long lasting.

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