The Occasion Of World Health Day- April 07th, 2004
Theme: Road Safety is no Accident
It has often been said that development comes at a cost. The motor vehicle has without doubt been one of mankind’s most stunning inventions of the last century and a half. With all its inherent benefits to modern society, the motor vehicle is now in danger of being categorized together with viruses and weapons of war in the level of human destruction which they cause. This is a sad but inescapable fact of modern-day life, as the number of lives claimed by road accidents continue to escalate out of control.
Road safety is an issue of global concern, leading to the realization that more needs to be done by a wider cross section of the society in order to minimize the carnage on our roads. Road safety is the business of all, and hence medical, insurance and commercial interests need to complement the efforts of traffic, health and road safety professionals in their work.
In these modern technological times, vehicles come equipped for improved efficiency, performance and safety standards. However this should not serve to underplay the role of the road user towards achieving safer roads. Special features, contraptions, volunteerism, better quality roads, do not safer roads make. At the end of the day, it is ultimately the road user i.e. driver and pedestrian, who by their attitude and comportment will result in improved road use practices. The benefits to safer road use are tremendous, and include, reduced loss of life and economic loss associated with medical care, insurance compensation, vehicles and parts replacement.
The “buck stops” invariably at the road user.
The obligation is theirs to ensure that they are committed to education, self-enforcement and empowerment. We must learn the traffic rules, familiarize ourselves with the road network, understand at least the basic workings of our vehicles and ensure that we are physically and psychologically prepared to face the jungle which our roads have become.
St. Lucia has already recorded nine (9) road fatalities over the first three months of this year, and according to all accounts reaching me, at least some of them, if not all were avoidable if the appropriate practices were adhered to. As the Ministry responsible for Transport, our efforts of nurturing an environment conducive to all related interest groups contributing towards the objective of minizing accidents on the road continues.
Government needs the unwavering support of the citizenry in order to counter the continuing destruction and pain on our roads. In recognition of World Health Day, 7th April, 2004, the theme selected: “Road Safety is no Accident”, it must be emphasized that what works in our favour is that regardless, that there will always be accidents; by their very definition, accidents are avoidable and preventable. We, the road users have the power to make a difference, and reverse the negative statistical trend.
Apart from passionately appealing to the sensibilities of road users, my Ministry has taken and will continue to take institutional measures aimed at forcing the reluctant into a more pro-active mode. In recognition of the theme we have decided to highlight the following:
Ø steps taken by the National Council on Public Transportation to sensitize bus drivers on safety issues through workshops with the Traffic Department;
Ø the Ministry’s effort to remove the stigma associated with SLG drivers through the introduction of advanced driving workshops involving all SLG drivers;
Ø efforts by the National Insurance Council to educate the public on safe road use practices through video productions;
Ø the need to disabuse ourselves as road users of the apathy, carelessness and senselessness of our negative and dangerous trends;
Ø more consideration for vulnerable road users especially the elderly and the physically or mentally challenged;
Ø infra-structural improvements by way of traffic calming devices, flashing lights, sidewalks and guard rails in our school areas.
In concluding, drivers, I urge you to exercise restraint. Although your speed gauge indicates your vehicle could reach up to two hundred miles (200) an hour, due to our constraints of space and road configuration, our speed limit is set at forty (40) miles an hour and in a situation like that, please remember the words of the Jamaican Reggae Artiste – Big Youth “though you drive like lightening, you’ll crash like thunder”.
I thank you.
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