Road Safety
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THERE is no denying that ours is a country where road usage by vehicles is becoming more and more dangerous and catastrophic.With the advent of an increase in newer vehicles, and recognising that our roads are not up to the standard or are capable of handling such traffic, there needs to be regulation of speed based on the condition of the roads, the pedestrian traffic, and the number of residents living there. Conditions can incorporate types of roads, rain, standing water, flood areas, etc.

Every condition based on the driver’s skill set should be suitable for all drivers, so that the least capable among us can be safe whilst navigating our roads. For instance, the passenger-ferrying vehicles, like minus buses or taxis, tend to drive faster than the average privately operated vehicle. And what must be of concern to us is that these drivers/operators, on any given day, behave more recklessly in navigating the roads when they are carrying our citizens.

It is understandable that this particular category of road users has to make a living, and this is respected and encouraged; but, at the same time, the passengers’ safety ought not to be compromised in the pursuit of earning a living.
There has to be a more organised way of picking up passengers.

Stopping before an intersection to pick up a passenger blocks the view of another driver/operator merging into traffic. Curbing this dangerous practice can be done through the establishment and acceptance of designated pick-up areas, which can lead to a more organised and civilised way of fulfilling the same need of proving a service, and minimise chances of incurring causalities or injuries.

Signs are important in road safety. They can be posted to warn of troubled areas; for example, where there is standing water, possible flood area, or aggressive corners; and can be made visible from a reasonable distance, in order that drivers can make the necessary adjustment in good time. When moving from an open road to a residential area, where there is more pedestrian traffic, speed needs to be reduced to accommodate changing conditions or environment, such as school children or elderly persons crossing the road.

Stop signs should be mandatory at schools and day care centres, catering for our children. The matter of driving under the influence needs to be looked at. It is human nature to think we can manage everything, until something goes wrong. So the key is to have a standard of control. If persons are going out with the intent to drink, they should have a designated driver or an alternative mode of transportation. If a person is caught driving above the approved blood-alcohol limit, some penalty ought to apply, and this should be graded to cater for repeat offenders.

There may be need to examine the benefit of establishing a Traffic Safety Board or organisation to go around in communities and look into safety needs based on population, geography (residential vs. open; homes on one side of road vs. both sides, proximity of home to road), frequency of accidents or injury, from which assessments can be made on what kind of safety conditions are needed; for example speed regulation, guard rails, designated cross areas with stop light.

While the Police and Traffic Department are doing a good job of enforcing the laws, there is need to go one step further to understand how to minimise risk by having better safety precautions. An organisation of this nature, even if it works with the police, has a greater role to implement safety conditions from the standpoint of the wellbeing of the community; to maximise safety and minimise risk, rather than enforcing laws through regulation, as is done by the police.

Safety is also reliant on enforcing laws. Those caught speeding or driving recklessly should be penalised financially as well as be made to provide community service. The former allows government to raise revenue to implement safety regulations without raising taxes or having to penalise the regular citizens for acts of the reckless. Community service puts the violator into the community to do something productive.

Rather than be penalised through incarceration, these persons can clean up the community, help the elderly, work with the safety board, or along similar lines.

Future roads’ development ought to factor in pedestrians and cyclists. For example, these users should be designated space, rather than be made to operate in the flow of traffic.
Housing development should also factor in distance away from the road, in order to minimise the occurrence of accidents with their attendant casualties and property damage.

Road safety is everybody’s business, because the number one concern should be the life of human beings — the most precious and irreplaceable resource. Safety in general needs to revolve around the people’s safety.

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