Take care during the festive season

Editorial, Normal

The National, Thursday December 24th, 2015

 IT may well be a speculative assertion that many more traffic accidents do happen in the Christmas and New Year festive week than any in other week of the year. 

Or it could be a sad fact that has been the cause of misery and suffering for years in this country.

Some among us have taken the Christian holiday season to mean partying and revelry – and driving in an alcohol-induced jolly good mood!

It would be worth the time and effort to garner statistics from police and Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited (MVIL) to ascertain the number of accidents that do happen during the festive period.

Perhaps it would be useful to get the statutory offices concerned to compile accident statistics over the years that have occurred in the final week of December to January 1.  

Let us then compare the number of accidents that occur between December 23 and January 1, with the number of accidents in the other 51 weeks.

Then can we, backed with such concrete evidence, be able to ascertain the long held belief that the week in question is indeed a very dangerous period to be driving in, either behind the wheel or as a passenger.

The fact that authorities such as police, the National Road Safety Council and the provincial land transport boards have over the years taken a particular interest in the festive period and staged full scale special operations to keep public roads safe, should be telling us something.

Such an interest in the holiday season shows us that people have indeed pushed the holiday and partying mood a little too far.  

Driving under the influence of alcohol during this holiday period has resulted in too many road accidents already over the years. 

Many such accidents have been well documented in the news media. 

At this time of year, the holiday mood takes over and drivers and even passengers throw caution to the wind defying simple common sense and traffic rules and the result is needles suffering.

Like a Central province transport authority officer has pointed out, there is nothing wrong with people consuming alcohol during the festive period, but when you get behind the wheel, it all starts to become a potential accident.

“Alcohol is known to slow down your reaction time which is dangerous knowing that vehicles on the highways are permitted to travel up to 70 kilometres per hour. 

“If you try to avoid a pothole or a broken down vehicle suddenly at that speed, your delayed reaction time will likely cause an accident,” the official says. 

Nothing new there.

The Tok Pisin maxim Yu drink, draiv, yu dai is nearly as sure as the natural law of gravity. 

And it is not only the one behind the wheel that 

faces the very real prospect of dying or being maimed but everybody else in 

the vehicle or on a road 

side is in equal or graver danger.

That is a lot of human life placed at grave risk by the folly of drunken driving. Christmas partying instantly switches to mourning as a consequence of such unnecessary accidents.   

And here is something else to be said of the end-of-year gatherings, especially in PNG village communities.  

Those who genuinely want to join family and friends in a time of joyous celebration or peaceful 

family get-together make every effort to get home early to avoid last minute travelling.  

It is a known fact that accidents happening around this time of year are caused by people trying to rush home at the last minute. 

The heightened activity by police and road safety officials throughout the country is targeted at helping people to avoid such unfortunate events. 

If you can help it, by all means stay away off the road tomorrow and enjoy the celebrations with family and loved ones. 

This is one time of the year to share and enjoy the strong family ties that Papua New Guineans are known for.  

It is not a time to mourn the passing of a family member in a traffic accident caused by drunken driving.

Stay safe this Christmas and please don’t add any more to the statistics!