(Trinidad Guardian) The deadliest stretch of roadway in Trinidad & Tobago is a 700-metre portion of the M2 Ring Road in Debe, where at least seven people have been killed as a result of five fatal road traffic accidents between 2013 and 2017.
According to data compiled by the T&T Police Service (TTPS) Traffic and Highway Branch’s Roadway Surveillance Unit (RSU), while there were seven road deaths “concentrated on 708-metres of this road” between 2013 to 2017, for the entire M2 Ring Road there were nine fatal accidents which resulted in 13 deaths. The stretch has now become known as the “death strip” by residents of the area.
Statistics tabulated by the RSU list the causes of those crashes as “skidding and losing control” and “failure to keep to the proper traffic lane”. The speed limit for the road is 50 km/hr.
The M2 Ring Road is only about four km long and more than 200 accidents have taken place on it since 2013.
In an effort to enhance the safety of the area, in 2017 the Ministry of Works and Transport performed milling around the corners to increase traction, as people complained about their vehicles skidding of the road. Rumble strips and more signage was also added in the area.
TTPS Road Safety co-ordinator Brent Batson said the San Fernando Traffic Speed Team also increased patrols in the area to deter speeding.
Because a significant portion of the accidents in the area resulted in people smashing into concrete electricity poles and being seriously injured or killed, road safety group Arrive Alive asked the T&T Electricity Commission (T&TEC) to consider adding padding to the poles or using a different material.
In spite of these changes, however, yet another life was lost on the M2 Ring Road last April.
Adesh Ramnath, 34, of Cedar Hill Village, Princes Town, died when his silver Nissan Wingroad crashed into a white Toyota minivan.
The second deadliest road in T&T, according to the RSU statistics, is the M1 Tasker Road. According to the statistics, six people were killed as a result of five fatal accidents along the M1 Tasker Road between 2013 and 2017.
“The fatal accidents mostly occurred on corners,” the RSU statistics stated.
Last May, 59-year-old Azard Ali died in an accident along the M1 Tracker Road, Princes Town.
Main Roads, such as the M2 Ring Road and the M1 Tasker Road, have accounted for 123 fatal road traffic accidents over the last two years. In comparison, the nation’s highways recorded 73 fatal road traffic accidents over that two year period and the Priority Bus Route accounted for 14 fatal road traffic accidents over the two years.
Ramnath and Ali were among the 112 people who were killed in road traffic accidents last year. That figure was the lowest number of road traffic deaths the country has recorded in a year since 1958.
The road fatality figure has not been able to dip below the 100 mark since then.
Unfortunately, 2019 has so far seen a rise in the number of road traffic deaths as compared to last year.
Seven people were killed during a four day period in February.
Around 12.30 am on February 14, 67-year-old Jessica Martin, of St Lucien Road, Diego Martin, was killed when the vehicle in which she was a passenger in got into an accident.
On February 15, 60-year-old, Michael Henry, a pensioner, of Wallerfield Road, Arima, was killed when he was fatally struck by a motor vehicle while attempting to cross the Churchill Roosevelt Highway.
On February 16, 26-year-old fire officer Kerwin Duncan Dwayne Dick, 29, Deon Burkette, 33, Rae Cipeo, 40, all died when the vehicle in which they were travelling slammed into a utility pole in the Longdenville district.
On February 17, 63-year-old Wayne Slater, of Mount St George, was killed after he lost control of the vehicle he was driving and crashed into the concrete median at the Auchenskeoch roundabout in Tobago.
Over the last ten years, 1,648 people have been killed on the nation’s roads, according to data from the RSU.
The majority of those who died as a result of road traffic accidents over the last three years were males between the age 25-34.
Trinidad & Tobago’s motor vehicle history
But where did it all begin?
A significant milestone in this country’s history was recently observed, as exactly 119 years ago the first car rolled into T&T. That car in question was a steam-powered Locomobile Runabout and its owners, Messrs Garner and Khun became immediate celebrities.
Ten years later, in 1910, more than 50 motor vehicles were on the streets of T&T, including the first lorry which was imported in 1909 by Leo Devenish.
And then tragedy struck.
On October 9, 1911, Trinidad & Tobago recorded its first death as a result of a road traffic accident.
The deceased was William Lesli Nicol and he was killed on his 47th birthday.
The accident occurred near the then St Clair Tram Terminus, which is now the site where the Government is building a hotel to replace the Ministry of Agriculture.
At the time of the accident, Sir George Ruthven Le Hunte was the Governor of T&T and it was his driver, Captain Boddam-Whetham, who killed Nicol and injured four others in that accident.
“The dead man was William Leslie Nicol who was the manager of the famous Bonanza Stores on Frederick Street. It is strange to note that the day of the accident, October 9, was also Nicol’s birthday. Nicol was a Scotsman who had come out to the island with his younger brother Alexander around 1890 and found employment as a clerk in the Bonanza Stores in 1895,” historian Angelo Bissessarsingh wrote about the incident.
“His funeral was one of great sorrow because he was a well-liked figure in the city. His body was borne from Greyfriars Kirk on Frederick Street to Lapeyrouse Cemetery where his brother had paid for a plot,” Bissessarsingh wrote.
Alexander also erected a monument for William which states:
“Erected by Alexander Nicol in memory of his beloved brother, William Leslie Nicol, merchant, eldest son of Charles and Ann H W Nicol, Portsoy Scotland, who was killed in a motor accident on his 47th birthday 9th October 1911. They loved him most who knew him best. They will be done.”
Nicol’s death, however, was not in vain.
“Nicol did not die in vain even though Capt Whetham was never charged. Governor Sir George Le Hunte, whose driver and car caused the collision, implemented traffic laws in 1912 which constituted the Motor Vehicles Act and which mandated the licensing of vehicles and drivers, inspection of the former, and testing of the latter. The Traffic Branch of the Trinidad Constabulary was formed to administrate this function until the formation of the Licensing Division in the 1960s. Thus, Nicol can be seen as the unfortunate sacrifice which catalyzed legislative and policy reform.”
While in 1900 Trinidad & Tobago only had one car, according to the latest statistics there are now some 900,000 vehicles on the roads.