Time to take road safety seriously


PORT Moresby has experienced unprecedented growth in the past few years coupled with an ever-increasing population that pose major challenges for city authorities and planners.
New infrastructure and an upgraded road network have not only given the capital city a postmodern outlook but spurred an increase in the number of vehicles and drivers.
Traffic congestion and road accidents are a daily occurrence, which have prompted the newly-established Road Traffic Authority take measures to make city roads and streets safer for both motorists and pedestrians.
Acting chief executive officer Nelson Terema said recently that the authority would implement a more stringent system for the issuing of driving licences and vehicle registrations.
He also revealed there were 105,000 drivers and up to 120,000 vehicles throughout Papua New Guinea, including those operating without licences. The statistics for unlicenced drivers and unregistered vehicles are yet to be disclosed.
We have said time and again that our roads and streets, especially in Port Moresby and Lae, are dangerous or unsafe places.
Terema has confirmed one of our concerns that road accidents and traffic congestion are caused by the increase in the number of road unworthy vehicles and drivers who are given licences without undergoing proper tests.
Our other concern was confirmed by Transport Department Secretary and superintendent of traffic Roy Mumu who said too many road accidents were caused by irresponsible and negligent drivers.
And this week, Port Moresby traffic police revealed that alcohol was the main cause of road accidents in Port Moresby.
The head of Four-Mile police traffic section, Inspector Philip Koliadi, said drunk driving was the main factor in these road accidents.
He also blamed pedestrians who were under the influence of liquor. “Drivers are not only the main offenders, it is also the pedestrians. Most fatalities involve pedestrians under the influence of liquor.”
The revelation by Koliadi should be sufficient reason for the police and relevant authorities to seriously consider the introduction of the breathalyzer test for drivers suspected of driving under the influence of liquor.
The breathalyzer test is possibly the most effective way to rid our roads and streets of drunken drivers who endanger the lives of other people.
It is a proven method of curtailing this crime in Australia and many other countries and its introduction in PNG is long overdue.
While the current road deaths toll in Port Moresby may be relatively low, there will come a time when pedestrians will be struck down by vehicles on a daily basis.
Do the relevant authorities want to wait for that to happen or will they act now to make our thoroughfares safer?
It can be safely stated that road safety is almost non-existent in the capital city. Aside from the weekly road checks by officers of the government owned Motor Vehicles Insurance Limited, little or no attention is paid to reckless drivers who break every rule in the traffic book.
These drivers deliberately ignore traffic rules and drive over the speed limit, fail to stop at pedestrian crossings and run the red lights. Many of them drive under the influence of liquor.
These culprits must be stopped before they injure or kill themselves and other innocent road users.
According to traffic police, the number of road accidents has increased significantly in the past few years. Statistics show that most victims are pedestrians.
Police want tougher penalties for traffic offenders to deter them from continuing to commit these offences. They have also urged parents to educate their children about road safety.
With the influx of vehicles into the National Capital District over the past few years, traffic jams have become a way of life for motorists with long queues at traffic light intersections that can test a driver’s patience and understanding.
Road safety and the adherence of traffic laws must become a top priority for the police and other government agencies.
It is imperative that spot cameras are installed with police presence at traffic light intersections to detect and apprehend offenders.
The presence of traffic police patrolling the roads and streets is a comforting sight for law-abiding motorists and pedestrians.
It is a matter of life and death that these stringent measures are implemented without further delays.

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