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EDITORIAL: Move swiftly on Traffic Act amendments


EDITORIAL: Move swiftly  on Traffic Act amendments

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The caution for motorists to exercise due care and attention on the roads is an oft repeated one. Yet, it seemingly falls on deaf ears.

The promised amendments to the Road Traffic Act, which Minister of Transport Michael Lashley announced this week will soon be laid in Parliament, are therefore eagerly awaited.

These changes, according to him, will see the mandatory wearing of helmets for cyclists, mandatory inspections of vehicles more than five years old, and the inspection of public service vehicles (PSVs) every six months, as well as the outlawing of cellphones while driving.

Other amendments will include moves toward breathalyser testing, as well as the prohibition of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) from public roads without special permission, and the prosecution of individuals involved in car racing stunts and illegal racing on the highways.

These expected improvements, which it is hoped will help reduce the chaos and potential dangers on our highways and byways, are long in coming, but arguably necessary to keep our motorists and pedestrians safe, especially in light of the climbing number of road accidents recorded by police.

Recently, the General Insurance Association of Barbados also expressed concern about the number of accidents occurring as a result of motorists being distracted on their cellphones, while complaints have also been lodged over time regarding ATVs on the road. Concern about speed and road rage cannot also be ignored as our lawmakers look to make changes.

Road safety came into sharp focus this week with the graphic pictorial of a roadside memorial bearing crosses, set up by the Barbados Road Safety Association, in honour of those who died or were seriously injured in road accidents.

It is high time those in authority stop paying lip service to this issue and speed up the process that is necessary to put the adjustments to the Road Traffic Act in place.

As more and more time elapses, the reality is more accidents are occurring, and more people are losing their lives and limbs, often as a result of careless and reckless acts. It is therefore time to make these amendments a reality.

But this is only part of the solution. Motorists also need to slow down and exercise care and caution on our roads. Respect for life must be paramount and defensive driving skills must be sharpened. There is no room for distractions, whether by cellphones or otherwise, when driving. Your full attention and eyes must be focused on the road ahead.

These are all efforts that can help to save a life, recognising that the life saved may be your very own.