It was recently revealed in the media that police will be embarking on a campaign to educate road users about the laws governing safety seats for children in vehicles. This is indeed a welcome move since any effort to improve the safety on our roads is of paramount importance.
However, an even larger and more basic problem exists among our drivers which our traffic police need to tackle with utmost urgency. And this involves the almost daily practice of drivers flouting the most basic of driving rules on our roads. An apparent lack of effort by our police to tackle these errant drivers has developed a culture where bad driving practices are deemed as “right”. This has in turn created driving monsters which inevitably lead to accidents and deaths.
Almost daily you will come across drivers who pay no heed to traffic signals, abuse turning lanes, undertake, double park without any regard for other road users, stop anywhere on the road irrespective of if it causes a traffic backlog, riding motorcycles without helmets etc. Oftentimes many of these flagrant offences are done right in front of traffic officers who either deem the offences too minor to be tackled or do not see them as a contributor to the bigger problem of road accidents.
But reality is that these bad driving practices inculcate a culture on our roads which lead drivers to believe that “wrong is right” and eventually this attitude culminates in an accident or death.
Some of the biggest culprits of bad driving practices are minibus and taxi drivers. These two groups seem forever in a hurry and have little qualms about blatantly flouting the rules. I am certain that almost every road user has experienced a mini bus jumping the stoplight or stopping in the middle of the road with little regard to the other road users which such actions affect. Or the taxi driver that decides that the faster way is to come out of the straight lane and block the turning lane simply because it brings him close to the stoplight.
If we genuinely want to improve the use of our roads then we have to start with implementing the basics. Once we can get our drivers to adhere to these basic laws then it becomes easier to implement the other laws and finally make our roads a safer place.
The time has come for there to be a concerted campaign to tackle this massive problem. Much like how there is a campaign to implement child seats, there should also be a campaign to eradicate the flouting of basic traffic rules.
Since some of the biggest offenders are mini buses and taxis, then the campaign should aim to hit these errant drivers where it will hurt them the most – their pockets. If they are found breaking these laws then they should be prevented (by any legal means possible) from driving for the remainder of the day. You bet if they are hit in their pockets, in very little time they will be complying with the laws.
The police force should reevaluate the way their road patrols are conducted. Rather than simply riding/driving around randomly stopping vehicles they should station teams at main points where the road abuse frequently occurs; such as the stoplights.
Hopefully the hierarchy of the Ministry of Public Security can see what most of us see on a daily basis and implement a concerted campaign to right a wrong that has been going on for way too long and which may have indirectly led to many accidents and even deaths on our roads.