EDITORIAL - Road safety a continuous effort


AN ongoing effort must be made to keep road safety at the forefront of the minds of Barbadians. 
It appears that we only remember how important it is when there is a serious accident resulting in fatalities. However, given the volume of traffic on our roads and the need to keep accidents at a minimum, there is need to keep the road safety message current and fresh at all times.
The effort taken by Government to introduce the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) here in Barbados in recent times is commendable. Indeed, any move to make our roads safer is a plus, as too many of our citizens and visitors as well are hurt and die on our roads.
Word is that the UK-based charity iRAP – which is dedicated to preventing road deaths and injuries – will be joining with the Ministry of Transport and Works to evaluate the safety of Barbados’ main road network, especially our highways. Part of the iRAP exercise will be the collection of road data by the subcontracted firm Servicios Mexicanos de Ingenieria Civil (SEMIC) from Mexico. Representatives have 
already started the process of collecting data, as they set out to survey approximately 500 kilometres of our road network.
Information coming to hand indicates that the iRAP Project will be making use of Risk Maps, which use detailed crash data to illustrate the actual deaths and injuries on a road network. Star Ratings, which are simple and objective measurements of the level of safety provided by the road design, will also be attached to some of our roads. 
Julio Urzua, iRAP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, has noted that the rating is from one-star to five-star, with the safest roads awarded five stars, and he has highlighted the improvements that can come about when governments take the recommendations put forward by iRAP officials. iRAP will identify cost effective and often simple infrastructural improvements that can be made  to help improve local roads for all users, inclusive of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
We definitely look forward to these reports.
Now we are well aware that road crashes cause enormous grief to victims, their families and friends and it has been pointed out that fatal crashes can also lead to financial distress for households that lose their main breadwinners. If we can reduce the number of fatal crashes occurring by making our roads safer, then we can save numerous families from having to go through a taxing grief process; and we can certainly keep more of our productive citizens. By having safer roads, we also cut down on the number of persons being injured – a point that is often overlooked. However, we should be aware that numerous persons do not die as a result of terrible vehicular accidents, but they are nevertheless left with severe injuries that they have to nurse sometimes on a long-term basis, and some persons even become disabled, as a result.
The onus remains on motorists and all roadusers to ensure that they traverse our roads in a responsible manner. Too many drivers engage in reckless acts of speeding and overtaking. Too many motorcyclists and  cyclists take unnecessary chances on our roads. Too many pedestrians misuse the crossings. Too many roadusers are navigating the streets with cell phones in hand or to their ears. All this has to stop if we truly wish to see a reduction in accidents and if we truly want to be serious about pushing the concept of road safety.

Barbados Advocate

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