A successful test of two high-tech speed guns was conducted yesterday on Ariapita Avenue in Port-of-Spain as part of a feasibility study aimed at introducing the measure to reduce road accidents. However, the police was not involved in the exercise conducted by activist group Arrive Alive which has been at the forefront of a campaign to bring speeding motorists to book and in the process reduce the amount of people killed on the nation's roads.
The tests caught many drivers exceeding the speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour applicable to the urban district with many clocking in the vicinity of 68 kilometres per hour near Sweet Lime Restaurant. The equipment used was a Tru Cam video recorder, which costs $75,000 and the Tru Speed S, worth $17,000, which allowed traffic officials to record just how fast drivers were going.
The test followed on complaints from residents and other drivers that the new one-way traffic plan which went into effect on July 16 allowed for an abuse of the speed limit. Traffic engineer Adande Piggott said there had been numerous complaints about drivers speeding since the new plan was introduced.
As part of the new initiative parking has been banned along Ariapita Avenue which is now one-way. Piggott said this effectively turned the four-lane road into a highway as drivers were taking advantage of the open roadway and the free flow of traffic.
Reminding drivers that the area was a mixture of commercial and residential properties, Piggott said the new traffic plan had been designed to "take away most of the points that caused friction." Referring to the speeds of some drivers yesterday as "inconsiderate," Piggott said the authorities will now have to review the existing traffic plan and examine "traffic-calming" measures.
Among them is an increase in the number of pedestrian crossings, as well as an adjustment to the lane widths, which it is hoped will get drivers to cut their speed. President of Arrive Alive Brent Batson agreed with Piggott that the equipment provided by Lasertech was more accurate and modern than the technology currently used by the police to determine the speed of cars on the road.
Batson said he took advantage of an offer from the agent to do field tests, which could provide useful data to the authorities as legislation is yet to be enacted so that drivers can be charged and prosecuted using evidence from speed guns. Lasertech agents Monique Walker and Roddy Tang Yew explained that the new equipment which could measure speed and distance, was not yet in operation and was currently being tested.
Walker said the Tru Cam resembled a handheld gun and could capture video footage and other relevant information which could be later used by the police to identify speedsters. She said the two devices were easy to use and could save time as tickets could be sent in the mail after police viewed the camera footage. Walker assured that the information recorded "cannot be tampered with."
Some drivers welcomed the use of the new equipment, while others declined to comment. Two Woodbrook residents, who requested that their names not be used, called on the police to increase patrols in the area during peak hours, and especially on Friday and Saturday nights. One man said, "Drivers are always speeding around here with little consideration for the elderly and children. We need the police to be out more."