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One for our roads

Every year, special days are observed to cast a spotlight on a concern or issue affecting a community, society, or the world.

Some of these special days are well established such as World Aids Day (December 1), International Women’s Day (March 8), World Down Syndrome Day (March 21), World Press Freedom Day (May 3) and World Environment Day (June 5).

Others are not as widely recognised in some circles but growing in visibility, such as World Day against Trafficking in Persons (July 30), World Mental Health Day (October 10), International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17) and the International Day of Peace (September 21).

There is one day on the annual United Nations calendar that should become high profile for us in Trinidad and Tobago.

This Sunday, the third in November, is annually commemorated as the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. It is a day to remember globally those who have been killed and seriously injured on the world’s roads and to acknowledge the suffering of all affected victims, families and communities.

It is a day to draw attention to all whose work involves crash prevention or response to the aftermath of crashes – police, fire and emergency, medical professionals – since it offers the opportunity to demonstrate the enormous scale and impact of road deaths and injuries. The 2022 theme focuses on Justice.

Speaking at the launch of the Electronic Vehicle Inspection System in Chaguanas in March this year, Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke estimated that there were more than 1.1 million vehicles in Trinidad and Tobago.

With such a high number of vehicles in our small country, this World Day should be one of which the public should be more aware.

The good news is, according to statistics published by the local non-government, apolitical organisation Arrive Alive, the number of road traffic accident fatalities has been on the decline over an eight-year period, from 193 in 2013 to 96 in 2021, the latter possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic which kept thousands indoors, and off the nation’s roads.

Referencing statistics such as this is important as it points to the direction we should, in a sense, be driving towards. We are either drivers or are driven and being in a road accident does not necessarily carry with it certain death. Some victims recover but some are maimed for life, a point not many consider.

Our litany of driving infractions can be seen daily, even on days of less traffic like Sundays. The nation’s drivers need to reflect and consider all the irresponsible behaviours that need urgent changing, from not using their indicators when changing lanes for the benefit of the driver behind, to speeding unnecessarily and breaking red lights; from using the shoulder as a private lane to driving around an intersection to bypass a traffic light that may be taking more than 30 seconds to change signal.

It should not be the sight of flashing blue lights to ensure we slow down, buckle up, drive at a safe distance, and obey the rules of the road.

It bears repeating, sometimes it is only when you or a loved one is directly impacted – when it hits home – are better choices made.

It’s time we all took a look in that mirror, be it rear view or wing, and ensure we practise road safety as one accident victim or fatality is one too many. This is ‘one for the road’ everyone should take on board.