Road safety woes

THE FACT that 780 traffic related bookings were recorded in the Western Division over the Easter long-weekend will definitely raise eyebrows. Sceptics will wonder whether it is a price we have to pay for development? The alarming figures though are definitely worrying those tasked to look after safety and the adherence to laws that govern usage of our roads.

Land Transport Authority spokesman Iliesa Sokia said out of the 780 bookings, 440 were speeding violations. Through joint LTA and police operations, 340 bookings were recorded in the West.

“There were 176 traffic infringement notices and 164 defect orders that were issued,” Mr Sokia said.

He said the 780 bookings were the highest recorded within the four-days. It is encouraging to note that the LTA has warned drivers that they will be visible along major construction sites to monitor driving behaviour and book drivers accordingly.

The issue of visibility should perhaps be one that is dissected by the authorities and pondered over.

It does stand to reason then, that drivers are aware of visible police highway patrols, and LTA officers, and have a tendency to quickly peer over their speed gauge.

Would this then be an effective way of dealing with speeding drivers? Visibility over hidden officers with speed cameras? Over the Easter period, LTA recorded 100 bookings in the North and seized two private vehicles for engaging in illegal operation. As many as 116 speed related bookings and defect orders were issued in the Central Division. Speeding is arguably one of the major causes of road accidents in Fiji. When massive awareness campaigns promoting road safety issues are not able to effectively arrest speeding drivers, we are left to ponder on attributing factors. The LTA has taken on a very positive outlook which is encouraging.

It isn’t going to be an easy task though to put a lid on speeding drivers. Considering the implications road accidents have on families and eventually the country, it must not be considered unattainable though.

Road accidents cost Fiji millions of dollars annually.

A range of issues are taken into consideration when estimating the cost, such as the victim’s loss of productivity. The victim’s remaining working years, possible contribution to the economy through grocery and other services he or she would have paid for, loss of time and loss of revenue to a family. There are other costs when emergency services are involved. Unfortunately we tend to be complacent until the next accident happens. Great initiatives are undertaken every year yet we disregard even the simplest road rules.

Accidents happen because we think they won’t.

Is it fair then to suggest that our road safety record is not a reflection of the efforts of the police and LTA which have been proactive, but rather an indication of our driving habits. No amount of road safety awareness campaigns will reduce our death toll if there is no change to the attitude of road users. We are our own greatest enemy when it comes to road safety and the carnage will never stop until we do something about it.

Stick to road rules, do not drive under the influence of alcohol and stay within speed limits around the country.

Let’s plan our journeys and incorporate good time management. Let’s be sensible. Otherwise road safety is nothing but a dream.

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