The Christmas season is a time of the year when Trinidadians traditionally celebrate with prayer and festivity. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a certain tempering of these activities this year, but they will no doubt continue in adjusted formats. However, there is also one aspect which comes with such activity that is not so welcome—an increase in road accidents and fatalities.
The reports of three accidents in a six-hour-span on Monday, which resulted in the deaths of three citizens, has therefore naturally caused a ripple effect within certain sectors of the society.
To the families of businessman Ravesh Jhinkoo, fireman Satesh Ramkissoon and an as yet unidentified victim, we extend deepest condolences. It is never easy to lose a family member in such tragic circumstances. Losing them at this time of the year is doubly hard for some because of what the season means.
But it has now become critical that we issue the usual word of caution to users of Trinidad and Tobago’s roads. The three traffic fatalities brought to 86 the number of people who have lost their lives due to traffic accidents this year. This actually represents a decrease of 25 per cent, since up to this time last year there were already 115 road fatalities.
However, given that the pandemic also resulted in less activity on the nation’s roads for a period and people continue to limit their outdoor activity, it is still cause for concern.
Indeed, we concur with the T&T Police Service’s call yesterday for citizens to exercise more caution, vigilance and responsibility on the roads. This is especially so since it would appear that in at least one of the three recent cases, that of the unidentified victim in San Juan, the use of a nearby walkover could have prevented his untimely demise.
As a result of these latest fatalities, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith has mandated increased road policing activities as part of nationwide anti-crime activity. However, it should not have taken these incidents to prompt such action. Data alone would suggest that December into February, traditionally where dangerous activity like the over-consumption of alcohol occurs, would necessitate such increased police activity on the roads.
NGOs like Arrive Alive have for years fought tirelessly for measures to curb road traffic carnage. When Government finally came good on promises to adjust legislation to include measures like breathalysers, speed guns and a demerit points system, it was hoped this would act as an initial line of defence against bad etiquette exhibited by T&T drivers.
However, as we have seen with COVID-19 protocols, it is extremely hard to immediately change human behaviour via laws.
As such, it may be up to the TTPS to ensure compliance via the enforcement of laws. Such initiatives, which will include speed traps and roadblocks, may bring some inconvenience at this time. But this media house is sure that protecting citizens lives is of greater concern at this time.