Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Letter to Editor(s)

(Yesterday I sent the following letter to the three daily newspapers)

The Editor:

I recently returned to Trinidad after spending six weeks abroad. A few days after my return, I got an e-mail from a friend which simply said:

Dear Spec,
Good to have you home. Be careful on the roads. Alot of carnage.
Love ,

A strange little welcome back, I thought ... but unfortunately it is true. Another friend, speaking to me on the phone when I returned also told me something similar: "Be careful on the roads, Specky. There's a lot of carnage."

Indeed there is. When seven people can die in different auto accidents in one weekend (or was it one day?), something is wrong. This happens (too often to be acceptable) and has become 'commonplace'. The shock is no longer based upon the number of people who have died or the fact that they have died all 'in one go'. Gradually, the shock factor comes with the realisation that the face of someone you know/knew is staring at you from the newspaper. Thus far for me it's been (very rarely) people I know 'of' ... rather than people I know well. God forbid that it reaches to that. I'm sure others reading this will agree.

The same day I got that e-mail from my friend, I decided to hop in my car and go for a drive. It was an early weekday afternoon. As I reached some traffic lights just past Arima on the highway, the lights turned amber. I slowed down. They turned red and I stopped. Out of nowhere, a car (or maybe it was an aircraft - it was going too fast for me to make out what it was) flew past me. I had glimpsed it in my rear-view mirror speeding towards the light even as it was red. I've never seen any vehicle go at that rate before. Straight through the red light and out of sight in no time, causing my car to shake with the pressure it created as it passed. Not even an ambulance or fire engine goes at that speed.

When the light turned green, I found the next turning spot and came right back home.

One cannot look at that kind of driving and brush it off as some 'young boy' who just got his license or some drunk person returning from a fete. It cannot be glibly excused as "well, de road was empty" (which it often isn't these days/nights) or "well, dat's how dey driving now, yes."

In the Newsday (12 June), I read that Deputy Police Commissioner Winston Cooper 'expressed concern over the carnage'. Quoting the paper: "Cooper said drivers must exercise responsibility and avoid drinking and driving. Cooper also advised persons to stop talking on their cell phones while driving." In my view, this is too serious a matter to be simply 'advising' people to not drink and drive or talk on cellular phones. As it is, many people here already blatantly disregard the laws of the land. Will they listen to and follow concerned advice?

Concerned advice is something we can expect to get from loved ones. Not from our police force and 'those in power'. I (and others, I'm sure) want to see the relevant authorities get moving on seriously addressing this issue of 'road carnage' and enforcing strict laws as swiftly as they can. As swiftly as 'those drivers'.

Elspeth Duncan,
St. Augustine



Anonymous Vicki said...

Excellent post, Elspeth. The horrible driving is a sad fact of life here in the Orlando, FL, area, too. Recent statistics show that that 11,000 drivers run a red-light each day here. Some days, I refuse to go anyplace unless it's absolutely necessary.

By the way, I'm visiting you from "That's My Answer!"

7:05 AM  
Blogger Elspeth said...

Thanks, Vicki. Maybe drivers who break red lights are like bulls ... charging when they see red. Maybe we globally need to change the colour for 'stop' to blue ... a calming colour that will make them feel to slow down, relax and stop.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Jeunanne said...

I share your sentiments.

Unlike you though over the last month, I did pick up the newspaper and it did reach 'that' - it was my friend's younger brother, killed innocently. I too wrote an angry letter to the editor following the spew of mindless editorial about the usual - breathalyser testing and increasing the driving age. 2 factors which had no part in the spate of accidents.

17 year olds - yes. Drunk - no. Speeding - no. Sitting in a car almost at a halt and killed instantaneously by a truck that flipped the meridian - YES

Although I do support any measures to ensure roadsafety, gov't seems to manage to ignore the whopping other 70% of accidents.

Those drunk 17 year old maxi-taxi drivers zooming down the shoulder and zipping in and out of traffic can be such a nuisance?????


Surely it couldn't be the poor infrastructure and virtually non-existant law enforcement.....

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Kikipotamus the Hobo said...

How scary. I hate to sound like an old school marm with a ruler in one hand but yes, laws have to be enforced. Here we don't speed because of the stiff penalties and numerous speed traps where the cops use radar. When I pass a sign reminding me that 20 km over the limit will cost me $200, I keep a close eye on the needle and ease my foot off the pedal.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Deano said...

Hey Elspeth

Cheers for the comment over on my blog. That's My Answer seems to be a great way to find new blogs.

Seems traffic issues are not just local issues hey? We've got problems here in Australia too. The government is starting to do something about it which is good.

I work for my states Automotive Watchdog, I fix computers, but I get to see some of the things we're pressuring the government about.

a new one as of the 1st July is that all people getting there license must complete 100 hours of driver training, and for the first 3 years on the road they are not allowed to drive V8s, Turbos or other high performance cars. Also they can't carry passengers under 21 after 11pm at night.

These rules will combat the 'ego' driven dangerous driving we see from young men these days.

it's a start!

5:40 PM  

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