Driver behaviour causing accidents


I REFER to the editorial Oct 15 ‘Crack down on reckless driving’.
Firstly, the Road Traffic Authority (RTA) would like to acknowledge and congratulate The National for raising road safety as a serious issue that needs addressing and that driver behaviour is a major contributory factor in crashes.
Accident data reported to the police and analysed by the RTA indicates that vehicle speed, inattention, drivers losing control of their vehicle and drink-driving are most common driver errors in fatal and injury crashes with an upward trend in fatal and serious casualties since 2002 being reported.
The editorial goes on to note that drivers using their mobile phones (i.e inattentive or distracted drivers) are of concern and that PNG currently has no such law to stop motorists from using their handsets whilst driving.
Please be advised that Section 34 of the Road Traffic Rules – Road User Rules 2017 specifically prohibits the use of mobile phones whilst driving, with an associated infringement fee of K500 in law.
Using mobiles while driving – either texting or talking on them – can result in fatal and serious crashes occurring due to the distraction that they cause.
As such, the RTA fully supports the enforcement of drivers using their phones.
A K500 infringement fee will be a shock to many drivers and we hope that such an amount will act as a strong deterrent to those drivers that are tempted to use their mobile phone.
The editorial also makes reference to drink-driving.
The reported accident data tell us that 23 per cent of drivers involved in a fatal crash were suspected of being under the influence of alcohol. Recent changes to the legislation has allowed Traffic Police to use breathalysers to fully enforce previous requirements not to drink and drive.
The RTA is working with the traffic police to seek funding for the purchase of breathalysers (along with speed guns) to try and improve road safety for this issue in particular. While we have legislation in place, the tools to allow some enforcement to be carried out are currently lacking.
There are many road safety problems in PNG – the above examples of inattention and drink-driving being just two of a series of issues and concerns along with others such as the one raised in the editorial regarding drivers ignoring traffic signals – which also has an infringement fee of K500.
The RTA looks forward to working in partnership with media outlets such as The National and others to highlight road safety issues in the future.
As part of this, we welcome the opportunity to further discuss road safety concerns as shown in the crash and casualty data that the RTA now collates and reports upon.

Nelson Terema
Chief Executive Officer
Road Traffic Authority