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Jaywalkers a problem too
In their drive to ease up the serious problem of traffic congestion on the roads, the authorities have embarked on several initiatives, the latest being the rerouting of traffic in the capital city and St James. While motorists will welcome these developments, although the latest is still being watched closely by road users and the relevant powers that be to ascertain if the desired results are being achieved, the powers that be need to concentrate even more on another very important aspect of road usage—pedestrian traffic.
The way many pedestrians use the roads leaves one to wonder if they do not care about their own safety and, as in so many other instances in this country, the authorities are turning a blind eye to the careless and dangerous crossing of roads, especially in the capital city. But do not for one minute believe this situation applies exclusively to Port-of-Spain; all over the country where there are busy intersections this untenable situation exists.
Two places notorious for this unsettling behaviour are outside City Gate and the Broadway/ South Quay intersection. Before the recent installation of traffic lights at CG, commuters exiting and entering the facility very often played a sort of cat-and-mouse game with angry motorists.
Particularly when there was no crossing guard, commuters, some with a “bounce-me-nah” attitude, popped up between vehicles and, by some stroke of luck, none of them was fatally knocked down by a motorist. One would think that with the putting up of the lights at the CG this dangerous practice would have ceased. Uh-uh. Some commuters insist on ignoring the red light and still try to cross when the red stop sign is clear as daylight.
There is even a beeping sound alerting pedestrians when the time to cross is drawing to an end. One school of thought as to why the signals are being largely ignored is the fact that even though the lights have gone up, the zebra crossing is still there. Perhaps that is confusing them, but common sense would tell anyone attempting to cross that if they paid a little attention they would see that they are doing the wrong thing and mend their ways.
The time has come for somebody to haul some of these people before the courts...for their own good. All the plans by the authorities to improve road safety and the conditions of our roads for the benefit of both pedestrians and motorists would come to naught if the laws are not vigorously enforced.
Perhaps there is also need for an education programme to let pedestrians become more aware of their responsibility in this regard. Talking about enforcing the law, Traffic Branch officers would do well to place themselves at the lighthouse and at the Broadway/ South Quay intersection where motorists on a regular basis do their own thing, much to the annoyance of those who dutifully observe the regulations.
At the lighthouse, where there is a long line of motorists waiting to enter South Quay, delinquent motorists, instead of staying in the queue, drive straight to the head of the line, particularly when the vehicles are moving off. This can cause serious incidents between these road hogs and law-abiding motorists, who are taken by surprise because they would not expect that kind of driving, which involves the morons squeezing between the moving vehicles and the historic edifice.
Recently I was glad to see traffic police outside the PTSC compound on the Beetham Highway, just above the lighthouse, flagging down and ticketing motorists who couldn’t wait on the light to change to green for them to head east. Unfortunately, most of these operations are not done on a consistent basis, and knowing how undisciplined some of us are, the police ought to be more vigilant in their managing of the vehicular traffic.
Another favourite place where these don’t-care motorists practise their dangerous craft is at the Broadway/South Quay intersection, where they blatantly ignore the turn-right sign. The lights and road markings clearly show that vehicles on the extreme right must turn right. But every minute of the day these motorists drive straight across into Broadway like nobody’s business.
It is so simple to turn around the majority of delinquent drivers: just ensure the police are on the beat. That’s all it would take. But as it stands now it is like a free-for-all on the nation’s roads with the lawless motorists getting the upper hand with deadly consequences. I am seeing more traffic wardens on the roads than regular traffic cops. What a shame!
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