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Traffic police should be better armed for the fight

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Today marks one year since the occurrence of what is arguably one of the worst traffic accidents in the history of this country. The Rock Gutter tragedy at Owia took place on January 12, 2015 and was particularly horrendous on two fronts – that seven persons lost their lives and the fact that those persons were children whose potential was cruelly cut short.{{more}}

The Rock Gutter road accident may have been an omen of sorts, as to what was to come in 2015, in relation to road safety. Last year, there were 15 fatal traffic accidents in which a total of 25 people died.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in an address to the nation to mark the start of the year, declared that there was too much careless and reckless driving on our roads and called on Vincentians to do better. The police too have weighed in on the road fatality statistics, saying they have, over the last few weeks, been fine-tuning strategies to clamp down on “recklessness.”

Yesterday, one day before the anniversary of the Rock Gutter tragedy, a minibus transporting schoolchildren crashed on the Pembroke stretch, injuring some of the children. Thankfully, there were no fatalities; the outcome, however, could have been much worse. We pray that yesterday’s accident will serve as a reminder to all our drivers, but particularly drivers of public service vehicles, to take more care on the road.

A senior member of the traffic division told SEARCHLIGHT last week that their strategies to curb reckless driving include, among other things, stepping up patrols, conducting informative school visits and having discussions with public transport operators and minivan conductors.

With all respect to the hard-working officers and ranks of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, this plan by the traffic division seems analogous to using a garden hose to try to put out a raging forest fire.

We agree with the writer of a letter to the editor published in today’s newspaper (page 8) that our traffic police officers need to be provided with more modern tools to increase the odds of them achieving what they have been asked to. Our laws also need to be updated to make it legal for police officers to make use of such tools, which include breathalysers and radar guns, and for the evidence gathered using these tools to be admissible in court.

It is also time for our speed limits to be reviewed to make them more reasonable for the vehicles we drive today, but once that is done, speed limit signs should be posted and persons who break the limit should be prosecuted. We should also introduce a points system, so that persons who have a propensity to speed and drive recklessly on our roads would find themselves losing their licenses once they have been found to be repeat offenders.

We applaud our traffic police officers for their efforts, but ask the authorities to better arm them to increase the odds that they would win the war against the rampant recklessness on the roads by those who seem to place very little value on human life.

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