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TTPS Road Safety Coordinator PC Brent Batson

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The prolonged closure of bars and the introduction of the UTurn System are just a few reasons why T&T recorded 96 road deaths in 2020, the lowest tally in 63 years.

Coordinator of the Police Service (TTPS) Road Safety Project Brent Batson told Guardian Media that while there was a commendable change in motorists’ behaviour in 2020, they are looking forward further enforcement technology in 2020.

It includes the rollout of the spot speed cameras, which are fixed installations to detect vehicles driving over the speed limit and red light enforcement camera for those traffic light breakers.

Batson explained that the top causes of road accidents were driving over the speed limit, driving too fast for specific road conditions, drivers under the influence of alcohol, driving while distracted and in some fatal cases, not wearing seatbelts.

With bars closed for several months, he said people did not have too many opportunities to drive home after consuming too much alcohol. However, in 2020, police have seen more adherence to the law.

“The collaboration between the TTPS, traffic wardens, municipal police and Licensing Authority linking to the U-Turn System was able to raise the level of enforcement. It was effective moving away from the paper-based system as it allowed enforcers to easily dispense tickets to drivers on the road,” Batson said.

However, he was disappointed that some people continued speeding, noting that the police gave out approximately $250,000 in tickets for traffic violations over the Christmas Day/Boxing Day weekend. He reminded motorists that the Licensing Authority would disqualify their driver’s permit after accumulating 10 demerit points.

He said it could take just two police stops for a person to accrue 10 points. Once a driver gets demerit points, he or she must spend the next two years without other traffic offences before the Licensing Authority resets their record.

“The State is trying to show drivers that there is a greater responsibility of having a driver’s permit. It is not a right.”

Arrive Alive president Sharon Inglefield is happy with the decrease in road fatalities in 2020 and is hoping for another 20 per cent reduction at the end of 2020. Inglefield said the TTPS is yet to release the statistics on traffic offences in 2020.

Last week, Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke revealed that between June 2020 to December 22, 2020, the State would disqualify 1,000 driver’s permits and banned 60 motorists from sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

“From what I am gathering from the 1,000 drivers who will have their permits suspended, the awareness of this, with regards to the consequences of making poor choices and giving drivers demerit points has caused the decrease. I am also certain that less traffic on the road has also helped as well as the road safety infrastructure like barriers and roundabout,” Inglefield said.

She believes COVID-19 protocols that led to people working from home and the restricted movement in the earlier part of 2020 led to fewer vehicles on the roads, leading to fewer accidents.

However, Batson said there was no significant drop to road accidents during that time compared to previous years.

In 2021, Inglefield hopes the State will implement spot speed cameras, install more barriers along the highways and consistent enforcement of road traffic laws using technology.