Reckless driving needs to stop

June 03, 2016
These two vehicle collided head on into each other on the Nelson Mandela Highway earlier this year. Passengers from both vehicles received injuries but there were no fatalities.

One day a long, time ago, I took a minibus from Mandeville to Kingston. I had to travel to Kingston to pick up registration forms for CAST (College of Arts Science and Technology), now University of Technology, and took a day off from the bank where I worked to run the errand.

Back then, there was no toll road so the journey to Kingston was a long and winding affair. Well, so I thought. To the driver of the souped-up minibus the trip into Kingston was one that should be covered in as short a time as possible. I was sitting at a window seat and everything went by in a blur.

After a few reckless efforts at overtaking around some blind corners, I shouted to the driver that he needed to take it easy. I looked around for support and everyone just sat there stone-faced. A woman in the seat in front of me muttered something to the effect that I leave the driver alone because the man a do him job, or something to that effect.

When I came off the bus at Three Miles I was exhausted, my body shaken and stirred by the constant swerving and swaying at high speed for the 90-minute journey. It took me a few seconds to gain my bearings after the bus sped off, apparently heading downtown somewhere.

I regale you with this story because I suspect that the passengers of the ill-fated minibus that crashed in St Ann a few days ago killing five of the people who were on board may have felt the same way I did 30 years ago. And like everybody in that bus, except yours truly, no one decided to do or say anything.

Yes, the reckless driver deserved the bulk of the blame, but equally at fault are passengers who allow these mad men to drive them at break-neck speed in their defective vehicles have to take some responsibility.

How can you sit quietly like lambs to the slaughter while irresponsible minibus drivers speed you along to your destruction? The great irony is that people only choose to speak out after the horse has bolted, after lives have been lost.

And we still don't get it.

 

ACCIDENT REACTION

 

Reacting to news of the accident, someone posted on Facebook this week that the owner of the bus should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In response, a lady commented, "Why though?"

It's called accountability. It is why Walmart paid actor/comedian Tracey Morgan millions of dollars after the driver of one of their trucks ploughed into a vehicle in which Morgan was a passenger, causing the actor to suffer serious injuries.

When reckless drivers and conductors put the lives of passengers at risk, someone must be held accountable. If the driver and or conductor loses their lives during one of their reckless runs, someone has to pay for the loss of those others who would have been led to their deaths because they refused to speak up when they identified that their lives were at risk.

If the owners have to fork out millions in the event of such a tragedy, I bet you they would ensure that their vehicles are well maintained and that drivers obey the road code and operate at safe speeds.

It's the only way I see in which we can save lives and prevent the carnage on Jamaica's roads. Until we grow the collective backbone that we have been lacking for so long to call drivers out and demand that they drive at safe speeds; in the interim, we have to enact laws that will help protect us from ourselves.

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