Make defensive driving tests compulsory

Editorial

A DEFENSIVE driver is a safe driver, and that is especially important for fleets and the companies they serve.
From sedan to truck fleets, drivers need to know how to properly handle a vehicle, and they need to have sound judgment when presented with road obstacles or reckless drivers.
It seems that drivers in Papua New Guinea are not good with defensive driving.
Defensive driving is driving to save lives, time and money – despite the conditions around you and the actions of others. And that is something the Road Transport Authority must push for to ensure that all drivers sit a defensive driving test apart from the general test for a driver’s licence.
One must always remember that a defensive driver will never put anyone else in danger because a good defensive driver practises correct, legal driving techniques at all times.
Defensive driving is essentially driving in a manner that enables motorists to identify and avoid hazards in a predictable way. These strategies go well beyond basic traffic laws and procedures.
Almost every day, you will come across some sort of accident involving vehicles and people. We drove past three road accidents on Saturday morning.
When behind the wheel, the drivers’ job is driving. It is their job to protect themselves, their passengers, the vehicle and people and property around them.
If all Papua New Guinean drivers, were certified defensive drivers we would see fewer road accidents as everyone would know what to do and what not to do.
The main causes of accidents that stand out include speeding, loss of control, inattention and fatigue, overloading and drink driving. Passengers who ride in the back of utilities and trucks where there are no seat belts are highly represented in accident statistics.
Moreover, pedestrians walking in the middle of the road or walking on roadsides are vulnerable to accidents because of a lack of basic road-use knowledge or a lack of protection through appropriate road furniture like rails, sidewalks and designated pedestrian crossings.
To put road safety issues into perspective on a global scale, the World Health Organisation (WHO) forecasts that road traffic deaths will become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030 (ranked ninth in 2004), ahead of HIV/AIDS, for example.
Furthermore, for the Western Pacific region, which includes PNG, WHO indicates that injuries sustained as a result of road traffic accidents are the primary cause of death for people between 15 and 44 years of age, and the second main cause of death for children between five and 14 years old.
Unfortunately, the true scale of the actual road safety problem in Papua New Guinea is not known. While reported accident data has been collated by the police for a number of years, until recently, no formal review, analysis or dissemination of the information has occurred.
While authorities work to collate accident data, the Road Transport Authority must task all relevant authorities to incorporate road safety within their jurisdictions and to treat it as an urgent matter requiring immediate attention.
Defensive driving training must be compulsory for all drivers before they get their licence.

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