Road safety means caring for all

Editorial, Normal

The National, Thursday February 27th, 2014

 IMAGINE if before getting on a motor vehicle everybody behaved like they are on an airplane, the number of road accidents will definitely be reduced. 

One would find, all passengers paying full attention to the pre-flight safety demonstrations, either conducted by the flight attendants or through a video presentation, instructing passengers to familiarise themselves with the safety cards before take-off.

From passengers to cargo, no other form of transportation is as scrutinised, investigated and monitored as commercial aviation.

And we share the same sentiments as the Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Ben Micah, during the launching of the road safety campaign last August that after many years of having vehicles, Papua New Guineans still do not know how to drive vehicles properly, we don’t know how to behave properly in a vehicle and we do not know how to use the road that is supposed to be for the vehicle 

It is all about attitude; most Papua New Guineans have an attitude problem. 

It is not only on the roads but almost everywhere – no respect for laws, public property and the list goes on.

Yes, we agree that vehicles make the distance short, but when one is drunk and behind the wheel, a person’s death some 50 years later, will be brought forward.

And most times, the unfortunate thing is not only does the driver die, other unfortunate people die as well, a mother or a young boy who is walking on the side of the road, causing grief for families. 

If you have a license, think back to your driving test. 

To pass the  driving test, the applicant must simply demonstrate a mastery of steering, breaking, signalling, a three-point turn and a parallel parking job behind a single parked vehicle. 

Pilots, on the other hand, go through rigorous training and certification processes. 

Plus, one must go to flight school and receive a license.

Most airline companies require pilots to attend at least two years of college. 

Unlike on the road, there is an intense screening process to determine those licensed to fly. 

The pilot will not take a flight unless he has been cleared and is positive the plane is safe to fly.  

We have the issue of overloading in PNG both for vehicles and boats. And not to forget, adhering to simple road rules makes one wonder how some of the drivers got their license?

Maybe the same intense screening should be applied to drivers and boat captains.

Many drivers are reckless because operating a motor vehicle feels so mundane. 

Errors such as multi-tasking, failing to wear a seat belt, talking on a mobile phone while driving or simply forgetting to use a blinker signal may result in deadly accidents. 

Laws are there however, they are only as good as the people obeying and those who are supposed to enforce them.

The roles of police, the Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited and National Road Safety Council are very important and by working together with everybody, committing ourselves to become respectful users of the road and respectful passengers on vehicles, we all can effectively reduce the number of unfortunate accidents that lead to death and suffering.

Road safety must be an important focus of our life and this message must now target the children. 

Authorities must go to the children in school, go to the churches, go to all organisations where there is mass base possibility to disseminate the same information to everyone. How about the concerned authorities go down the path of introducing speedometers and breathalysers? 

Send officers for training or bring in trainers to train the users so the process of using it to getting the correct reading and the charges are done according to the laws governing the use of it.

We have had the opportunity to watch Australian police officers stationed behind a road bend with the speedometers and the reaction of drivers who know they have exceeded the speed limit. The check is conducted by an officer with a partner and not a 10-seater full of officers.

Road safety is not about intimidation. It is about a society caring for the lives of all its people. One way of caring is for everyone to join in safety campaigns until it becomes second nature.