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No more vigils

No more vigils

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Last Saturday night a candlelight vigil was held just outside the Customs building in the Upper Bay Street area. The vigil was held in remembrance of young Darrel Sergeant who died as a result of a motor bike crash in that area. The event was organised and attended by his friends. {{more}}

The faces of the persons attending last Saturday’s vigil were eerily familiar. These were the same youngsters who had held three other roadside vigils in less than nine months for other friends who had perished in similar circumstances.

In our Editorial of August 19, 2005, we mentioned that numerous studies have shown that scare tactics and lectures do not work in getting young drivers to develop safe driving habits. Our experience here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines proves that. These young people must have been traumatized by the deaths of their friends last year; their parents, we are sure, took the time to warn them yet another time. Despite this, we have had yet another fatality.

Peer pressure and the example of role models, the studies say, are the most important factors in the determination of a person’s driving habits. It seems as though the desire to win the approval of friends by showing off one’s driving “skills” and that one is not “crampy” behind the wheel is much greater than all other considerations. We have observed a disturbing trend where even when the motor bike rider is wearing a helmet, his pillion rider (usually a young female) is not.

Our young people are going to have to rise up and take a stand to save their own lives and that of their friends. We call on them to exert positive peer pressure on each other and insist that their friends practise safe driving habits. What about a pact among themselves to act in such a way that no more roadside vigils become necessary? What about giving friends who insist on driving without due care the cold shoulder?

We were thrilled on Tuesday to hear Minister of Urban Development and Culture, the Honourable Rene Baptiste join the call we made last August for Government to speed up enactment of legislation to make the wearing of helmets mandatory for motor bike riders. We add to that call the suggestion that the wearing of seatbelts be made compulsory for drivers and passengers in motor cars.

We don’t know if seatbelts or helmets might have saved the lives of any of the young people who left us recently in these horrible accidents. But what has been proven definitively is that seat belts and helmets save lives. We have to do what we can to protect our children from themselves.

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