Risk-taking drivers a menace

Editorial, Normal

The National, Thursday January 30th, 2014

 THE illegal and dangerous practice of motorists running red lights at traffic light intersections is becoming rampant in the National Capital District.

Fortunately, there have not been any reports of fatal traffic accidents so far, but it’s only a matter of time before someone is killed because of this.

So who is responsible for enforcing the traffic light rules? 

Is it the Police Department or the road transport agencies?

Whoever is responsible must wake up quickly to the fact that motorists in the nation’s capital are making the city roads unsafe and prone to nasty, even fatal accidents.

The main culprits used to be the reckless PMV drivers who continue to break just about every rule in the traffic book. 

They have now been joined by other senseless motorists who have come to realise that there is nothing to stop them from running red lights and breaking other traffic rules.

There is no police presence at traffic light locations and there are no police cameras to detect them. 

As far as these “cowboys” are concerned, they own the city roads and nobody can stop them and their dangerous habits. 

Traffic lights were invented to control the flow of traffic and pedestrians to improve safety and access to roads in large towns and cities. 

Sensible motorists drive at speeds that give them time to react if the traffic lights change.

In other countries such as Australia, road safety is of paramount importance.

Stiff penalties ranging from hefty fines for speeding and infringement of traffic laws, including traffic light regulations, have been instituted.

Jail-time can be expected for vehicular manslaughter and drivers can lose their licenses for lesser offences.

For example, if you disobey a red or yellow traffic light in Australia, you may receive an infringement notice from the police. If you disobey a red traffic light, you may be sent a camera detected offence notice. 

You can face up to 12 months suspension from driving on the first offence and if caught a second time you are likely to lose your driver’s licence.

That doesn’t happen in Papua New Guinea, especially in the NCD, because we don’t seem to take road safety seriously. 

It seems that the relevant authorities don’t really care about road safety and the risks that are posed by reckless drivers.

Most of the traffic lights in the nation’s capital are located in Waigani Drive, which is the busiest road in the city. 

With the influx of vehicles into the NCD 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.

A driver who runs the red light for the first time without incident can count himself or herself lucky. He or she may not be so lucky the second time around.

Those drivers who constantly run the red lights because they believe nothing can stop them, will sooner or later face the reality of a nasty accident. They can count themselves lucky if they survive.

These are the culprits who must be stopped before they injure or kill themselves and other innocent road users.

Road safety and the adherence of traffic laws must become a top priority for the police and other relevant government agencies.

It is imperative that spot cameras are installed with police presence at traffic light intersections to detect and apprehend offenders.

It is a matter of life and death that these measures are implemented immediately.

As well, the introduction of alcohol breath-testing for drivers must not be further delayed. 

The nation’s capital is full of drunken drivers who also think they are the kings of the road when they are intoxicated. They too must be halted in their tracks as they are a menace to our society.

There is another group of reckless drivers who apparently cannot be reined in because of the lack of laws governing the use of mobile phones while driving a motor vehicle.  

Despite much offshore research that shows that mobile phones distract motorists, PNG has yet to come up with specific laws to stop motorists from using their handsets while driving.

It is a risky and dangerous practice that must not be condoned by the relevant government authorities.