EDITORIAL: Heed road safety messages
There have been a number of road safety billboards unveiled by the Barbados Road Safety Association across this island, offering quiet reminders to local motorists about the need to drive cautiously, given the number of fatalities for the year 2017 to date.
The billboards give a headcount of the number of persons who have died on Barbadian roads and there is a message under all the representational heads, which reads, “There are real people behind the numbers. One life lost is too many. Please! Drive with care.”
Only if more Barbadians would heed the Association’s cries for motorists to exercise due care and attention on local roads and to drive defensively. The Royal Barbados Police Force, via officers from its Traffic Division, has been continuously urging Barbadians to cut out speeding and to drive cautiously as well. Alas! Given what we are seeing on local roads and the number of vehicular accidents resulting in serious injuries and even death, it seems that their cries are not penetrating the ears of all who use our roads.
One area of concern is that of motorists speeding. Motorists in Barbados certainly need to kill their speed, as too many motorists are breaking speed limits and travelling at speeds not at all necessary on minor and major roads. Motorists need to realise that they must always leave room for error, as one cannot truly react to the unexpected if one is flooring the gas pedal. Motorists also need to reduce their speed in residential areas and school zones. They should also traverse roundabouts with extra care.
Countless drivers in Barbados can recount “jaw-dropping” experiences where they escaped injury “by the skin of their teeth”, as some bike riders, cyclists and motor vehicle drivers did something senseless on the road. There are numerous stories floating around about motorists who manoeuvre through traffic, overtaking more than one vehicle at a time, with just enough space left to get back on the left side of the road, even as a junction or corner approaches. Road rage is also a common problem, as more and more drivers are becoming impatient and the aggressive honking of horns bears out this fact, if other drivers do not perform as these angry drivers believe they should.
Some would argue that there are too many vehicles on Barbadian roads. While this may be true, it makes no sense to try to travel from point A to point B in lightning speed, endangering your life and the life of others, when you could reach your destination five minutes later. Too many drivers leave for their destination late, and still expect to arrive at their intended stop on time. This therefore means that we not only have to be better planners, but that we must understand time management and work even harder to make the necessary adjustments to our schedules, so that we do not have to make up for lost time.
What is needed is a collective effort to see a reduction in the number of fatalities on our roads this year. While some Barbadians have pledged to do their part, those who have not must come on board, because safe drivers can be killed by those who do not take the necessary precautions to preserve life and limb. We really do hope that the carnage will stop and more Barbadians and other road users here will take stock, to ensure that Barbados is indeed a safer place in which we can travel to and fro and do our business.