EDITORIAL: Ending the madness on our roads
GRIEF STALKS the land and has drawn cries of concern from the insurance fraternity, the police, the Minister of Health, and those mourning the loss of loved ones as a result of almost daily traffic accidents on the streets of Barbados this week.
For three straight days, three families, numerous friends and associates were left shocked and saddened after accidents claimed the lives of 34-year-old motorcyclist Devon Norville, 18-year-old Kadean Worrell and 44-year-old legal clerk Neil Rose. And to compound the situation, 37 people suffered injuries, five critically, on Thursday after a minibus overturned.
And while we hasten to say that there is no proof of reckless driving in the Bayfield minibus incident, it must be said that bad habits continue unabated despite pleas from all quarters, and Barbados’ highways and byways have become a virtual haven for lawbreakers – often led by the drivers of public service vehicles (PSVs).
It must be admitted, too, that the two-fold problem of congestion is getting worse, as this not only clogs the island’s main arteries daily but also leads drivers to risk life and limb darting through ubiquitous short cuts and extremely narrow tracks.
Clearly, the congestion is not going away despite the increase in roundabouts. Will the authorities return to the idea of flyovers?
Obviously, there is no easy solution but one is urgently needed.
Then there is the condition of our roads, for which Red Plastic Bag’s song Holes is as timely today as it was in 1985.
In fact, while some politicians may wish to argue that the current state of the roads is not due to deterioration in the last four years, it goes without saying that the rising volume of traffic necessitates greater road maintenance than would have been needed a decade ago.
The sad fact of the matter, however, is that Government can hardly afford such regular maintenance. To these challenges add the daily hustle.
PSV operators not only rush to and fro to “cut out” each other but, ironically, have to compete with “pirate” vans, whose drivers are equally reckless.
Then there’s the incessant speeding by private drivers who run stoplights and break other traffic laws, who should realize by now that once they start out late for work, school or play, it is impossible to arrive early.
And, of course, there are the seeming widespread habits of driving and talking on cellphones, and worse, texting while driving. It is common sense that if one’s mind is engaged in such activities, it is near impossible to focus adequately on driving. This situation is exacerbated when one travels on the congested streets as we have here.
With widening and expansion of the road network unlikely to deal with the congestion and the increasing numbers of vehicles on our roads, we recommend all Barbadians take a few simple steps that would minimize the likelihood of accidents, and possible death.
We recommend that drivers, commercial and private, plan their journeys and as much as is humanly possible leave home a tad earlier; keep their speed to within the limit, not use their cellphones, and be considerate to other drivers.
For despite the best efforts of Government and traffic planners, it is incumbent upon each road user to be his or her brother’s keeper.