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Broaden the vehicle dialogue – then get something done

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Drivers and owners of mini-buses are preparing to engage in a workshop later this month that is expected to address such matters as road safety, fares and customer service. The president of the National Omni-buses Association (NOBA), Anthony Bacchus, spoke about this matter at a press conference late last month, noting that the May 25 and 26 forum will have an input from the insurance companies and the police.

It’s a commendable move on the part of NOBA which, interestingly, comes after some insurance companies have reportedly ceased offering coverage for minibuses over their driving culture.

That the Insurance Association is prepared to work closely with minibus owners and drivers to help foster an improved road culture is a positive move, as it demonstrates a recognition that engagement has an important place in finding solutions to problems.

The issues about which commuters are dissatisfied have been long ventilated, but are often brushed aside by drivers and their conductors.

Loud, and often vulgar music that impairs hearing and can lead to long-term hearing damage; drinking while driving, which impairs good judgement and reaction time; and the constant use of cell phones while behind the wheel is a not-exhaustive list.

These are matters which speak to safety, public decency and generally quality of service. Vehicle owners and/or drivers should therefore be quick to embrace initiatives which seek to positively address these matters. Attendance and follow-through are therefore of critical importance if improvements are to be made.

It will therefore require a huge mobilization effort on the part of NOBA, given that its membership comprises less than 20 per cent of active operators in the state.

Arising from that workshop should be a determination by mini-bus drivers and operators not to await the implementation of legislation to begin to lift their game.

But, we should take the vehicle dialogue a little further and also require that operators of vehicles used for other purposes – cars and trucks included – take remedial action for the public good.

The belching out of thick, black smoke from trucks and pick-ups on our roads is as much a health hazard as the loud music containing lewd lyrics to which the public is so often subjected.

If vehicle owners/drivers are indeed interested in improving the existing road culture, they would take individual, remedial action and continue to build on that – but a workshop is also a good place to start.

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