In recent times, a number of local videos have been making the rounds on social media of dash camera footage of accidents. These types of videos are extremely useful in emphasising how suddenly and drastically a “normal” drive can change because of the actions of others. Police officials constantly make appeals for the driving public to heed the law and reduce speed on our roads, but to little avail. Perhaps more dash cameras and traffic cameras may be part of the solution to curb some of the recklessness that is observed on our roads daily.
Road safety and regulations came under the microscope in a big way last year during amendments to the Road Traffic Act. However, it is unfortunate that some members of the public have seemingly gone back to business as usual; in this case, exhibiting poor behaviours on the road or still continuing to contravene rules by using their cell phones while operating a vehicle. Local police officials repeatedly express concern over what is demonstrated daily by drivers, which can hurt innocent bystanders. Sergeant Seibert Johnson, for example, recently warned about how some motorists drive while passing schools or where school children walk.
We can also clearly see that, frankly speaking, not everyone can navigate the roads well, despite being licensed to do so. Poor driving conditions in the form of wet roads seem to produce more fender benders; and some areas, due to poor visibility or line of sight, tend to instigate a higher number of accidents. In some cases, roundabouts have been erected in problem areas where deaths have occurred, for example at the bottom of Orange Hill, St. James, and at Lears, St. Michael. Other places like the Warrens Roundabout remain accident magnets.
To that end, retesting drivers is one step that can be taken to retrain those who have been found guilty of some road offences. It could be a case where those who have been involved in minor, non-life-threatening incidents have to be re-examined to update their knowledge of safe practices and of road traffic regulations, while satisfying concerns of police and insurance officials. This move would certainly be valid for operators of public service vehicles who have a long ‘rap sheet’ of reckless behaviours.
For this to be applied fairly and consistently, technology in the form of dash cameras and/or traffic cameras can be utilised. Several buildings around the island in well trafficked areas have security footage that can be obtained online, while motorists can install and keep records of their driving history via the use of specialised cameras and car monitors that can be mounted on the dashboard and the back of the vehicle.
It is also incumbent on the Ministry of Transport and Works and Maintenance to examine where pedestrian crossings are placed, how well painted and visible they are, and whether signs are easily spotted from a distance. It is jarring to approach or exit a roundabout and then have to brake sharply to avoid collision, as is the case by the pedestrian crossing en route to Belleville after passing the Nita Barrow roundabout. In addition, there are a few highly traversed roads that experience intermittent problems with flashing traffic lights. While that helps ease traffic flow, it also increases the risk of accidents.
We won’t ever eliminate all forms of bad driving. However, if the technology is there to be used, alternative methods can be employed to reduce the scourge of accidents seen daily on the roads.