Highway SOS

The Barbados Road Safety Association has embarked on a new and innovative Safe Community initiative under the brand “Make Safe Our Streets” — Make S.O.S.

The objective of this initiative will be to reduce accidents and save lives by engaging community participation in helping to achieve a Barbados where roads are safer for all.

For many years Government has been tackling safety on our roads using a top down approach. This approach alone has proven to be ineffective in achieving the desired outcome; that is, reducing the number of accidents and injuries on our roads. A new approach is needed where the community is involved in identifying and targeting safety problems. Community participation is needed for accurate understanding of the public’s priorities and needs, especially at the community level.

Road safety priorities are traditionally based on crash data analysis. Here in Barbados where there is limited data available, it is even more important that road users are consulted so that local knowledge is acquired. This helps ensure the correct problems and appropriate, acceptable solutions are identified.

The initiative will consist of a number of inter-related programmes. It will take a holistic approach that deals fundamentally with our roads and the users of our roads. The first phase of the programme will be a Traffic Sign Clean Up Campaign, which will be conducted under the theme “Predictable ROads Prevents Accidents’ — PROPA. In order to achieve a safe and orderly flow of traffic our roads need to be predictable. This can be achieved through traffic signs, markings and signals which must be visible far enough ahead to allow motorist adequate time to identify and react to the message the sign is conveying.

PROPA engages the public by requesting that they identify and inform the campaign of hazardous locations where traffic signs are concealed by vegetation. We acknowledge the fact that our Ministry of Transport and Works has a huge workload making our roads safe, they cannot be expected to do all that is needed, when it is needed.

As part of our contribution to giving back to the community, as a remedial measure, members of the association will take to the streets to remove vegetation from certain areas which has led to the obstruction of warning and other traffic signs and clear areas where the drivers of line of sight is affected.

Driver Education and training is fundamental to traffic safety. Under the Make S.O.S. initiative the association will be offering free driver education classes to two of the most at risk groups — young drivers and the elderly. We will also be offering safety education for motorcyclists, persons who are often involved in accidents and are among some of our more vulnerable road users.

Telephone and neighbourhood surveys along with town hall meetings to hear the public views and opinions on road safety problems in their communities will be conducted. We will see the formation of a road traffic victims advocacy group, Victims Against Road Trauma, made up of road accident survivors or relatives of road fatality victims.

This new approach to road safety will enhance the efforts government is currently making to make our roads safer. It is asking the public to play a greater role and have a say in their safety, to take responsibility and contribute to a reduction in accidents on our roads. Above all we must remember as road users need to comply with the traffic laws and continue to obey the rules of the roads.

We need to do all that is possible to reduce the number of accidents that are occurring on our roads. In doing so we will also be contributing to the overall goal of the Decade of Action for Road Safety that is to prevent five million road traffic deaths globally by 2020. Success requires the cooperation and participation of each and every one of us.

* Sharmane Roland Bowen is President of the Barbados Road Safety Association

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