Road safety efforts commendable


The effort taken by Government to introduce the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) here in Barbados  is commendable. 
Indeed, any effort to make our roads safer for road users is a plus, as too many of our citizens and also visitors die on our roads needlessly.
Word is that the UK-based charity iRAP, which is dedicated to preventing road deaths and injuries, will be working with the Ministry of Transport and Works over the next six months 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, and they have certainly come fully equipped, given the technology they will be using to do so.
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, pointed out that the rating is from 1 star to 5 star, with the safest roads awarded 5 stars, and he has noted 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 bicyclists.
Now we are well aware that road crashes cause enormous grief to victims, their families and friends and it has been noted that fatal crashes can also lead to financial distress for households that lose their main bread winners. 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 on the road. This point 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.
Whilst the iRAP project is to be lauded, it must be said that the onus is still on motorists and road users on a whole 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 bicyclists take chances on our roads. Some pedestrians make life hard on drivers as well, as they dart here and there and misuse the crossings. Too many road users are navigating the streets with cellphones in hand or to their ears. 
All this has to stop if we truly wish to see a reduction in accidents on a whole on our roads, and if we truly want to be serious about pushing the concept of road safety and all it has to offer.

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