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Addressing road safety

Fred Wesley
Saturday, December 02, 2017

Taxidriver Sisa Kanaveilomani instantly knew what he had to do. He did not need urging at all.

Taking his children to their Christmas program at the Central Christian Centre in Nausori, he witnessed an accident at Tacirua in Suva.

He claimed he witnessed an alleged hit-and-run incident which left a 12-year-old girl injured yesterday.

He said he gave chase when the driver of the vehicle failed to stop. Police eventually arrested the driver of the alleged runaway vehicle.

Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho said the fact that the driver put aside his own interests and pursued the suspect was truly commendable.

The incident, however, comes in the wake of concern raised by the force over the increasing number of road accidents.

It said there was a need for drivers to seriously change their mind-set about road safety.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro made the comment following three separate accidents in the Southern Division yesterday morning. While there were no injuries recorded, police were still concerned about the daily vehicle accidents through the four policing divisions.

The road death toll stands at 62 compared with 50 for the same period last year. This figure, she said, surpasses the 2016 death toll of 60.

Road accidents happen because we allow them to.

The reality though is that road accidents can be prevented.

To that end, the key is to understand and value road safety. It is about changing our mind-sets and embracing positive change.

It is about valuing life, and our loved ones, and being vigilant.

It means we should strictly abide by laws that govern road usage in Fiji.

There will no doubt be concern now as we enter the festive period.

This is when thousands of families will be making trips to various destinations around the country.

As we plan for such trips, let us be mindful of a number of factors. Let us plan to arrive on time, alive.

We should consider appropriate rest periods. Cut out the consumption of alcohol if we plan to drive, and let us be considerate about the fact that there are many other people using our roads.

Let us stick to speed limits, plan our trips well and factor in travel times.

As we count down to Christmas Day and New Year's day, let us aim to reduce fatalities on our roads and hopefully press the brake on the national toll.

When massive awareness campaigns promoting road safety issues are not effective in arresting speeding drivers for instance, we are left to ponder on attributing factors.

Road accidents cost Fiji millions of dollars annually.

Great initiatives are undertaken every year yet we disregard even the simplest road rules.

Our road safety record is no reflection of the efforts of the police and Land Transport Authority which have been pro-active, but rather an indication of our poor driving habits.

No amount of road safety awareness campaigns will reduce our death toll if there is no change in attitude.

We have to be sensible. Otherwise road safety is nothing but a dream.

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