EDITORIAL: On the road to sure order and safety

beadottin, beadottin@nationnews.com

Added 29 October 2012


One of the things of which the local constabulary often boasts is that it has kept in check serious crime on the island. And Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin and his senior officers often proudly use statistics to point to the low levels, be it of murder, burglary, robbery, housebreaking or some other type of felony that catches the public’s attention and evokes debate. The spotlight does not often fall traffic and road infractions, but there is no doubt that we have failed to contain lawlessness on our roads; and the situation seems to be spiralling out of control. We have long recognized that the ZR culture has brought with it disorder and disrespect and flouting of the law beyond comprehension. And no matter how many reports for infractions of the law, some operators in this sector simply continue to record court appearances and convictions – without fear of repetition. It seems as if the behaviour by public service drivers has become contagious. A classic example is the parking violations in Bridgetown, which are open and flagrant. It includes those driving vehicles with state registration to those with private. No one seems to care. In recent weeks there has been a popular football competition at Kensington Oval, and many of its patrons have been parking as they please, without consideration for other road users. This situation does not obtain when there is the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, or a major cricket match at the same venue. Then there seems to be a new rule that says traffic lights are merely objects and not to be observed, given the way drivers consistently breach the regulations. The situation is so bad that when given the green light and the right of way, a driver must now exercise great care and caution before proceeding. We also never know exactly how many motorists on our streets are driving without any insurance cover or without having paid road taxes. To compound all of these perilous realities, we have the situation where we have introduced  multi-lane roads and a plethora of roundabouts across the island. Unfortunately these developments did not come with any sustained public education programmes to promote the right way of doing things. So we have the end result of general carelessness and lack of attention, resulting in a growing number of accidents. The situation on our roads calls for action. Yes, the Barbados Road Safety Association plays a useful role, as does activists Victor Roach and Junior Jordan, along with the other NGOs promoting road safety. However, it is those responsible for law and order on our roads, and ensuring the punishment fits the breach, to see that a strong message is sent. We cannot continue to suffer the lawlessness on our roads.

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