Careless bikers, drivers blamed for road carnage
In 2019, less than five per cent of the 131 motorcyclists who lost their lives on the nation's roads were wearing helmets. Along with 108 pedestrians, this group of road users account for 55 per cent of the staggering 430 road deaths in 2019.
"Indiscipline is at the root of the problem," Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit, told THE STAR. He continued, citing a culture of disrespect fuelling carelessness.
"We are too selfish on the road. People are not respectful and caring and we need to go back to that. The same way we want to go home and see our family is the same way another person wants to go home and see his family," he said.
Having started last year with a campaign to keep road fatalities under 300, the Road Safety Unit eventually projected road deaths then would be 419. Projections for 2020 are that 348 will die on the roads. "There are less than five per cent of road crashes that are due to bad roads and bad vehicles. People are making poor decisions. We have to get to the subconsciousness of people. When I look at the projected fatalities, I see we could end up with 350 persons dying on the network next year," Hare said.
Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council, said substance abuse was a major contributor to road crashes. He pointed to a study that involved 150 bikers who were admitted to hospital after crashes. According to Dr Jones, 30 per cent of these riders admitted to have been under the influence of alcohol and marijuana.
"In 2012, only 42 motorcyclists died, now more than 130 died. There is a crew called 'no headlight crew' where they ride at night time across intersections deliberately without stopping as part of the initiation process. It is evident that a cultural change is needed. In the proposal, there is a plan to link the purchasing of a motorcycle with the helmet to make sure that people bought helmet at the same time and there is an effort to reduce cost of the helmets. Also, a lot of people are wearing sandals and other stuff that are not proper gear, so we want to target that as well," he said.
The least bloody year on the road in the past decade was 2012 when 260 fatalities were recorded.