Speeding in St John

The parish of St John holds for me some wonderful memories. I vividly recall the first time I looked over the walls of the parish church and realized that there was beauty as far as my eyes could see.  I was awestruck at the coastline, the rolling hills and the innumerable shades of green which transported me to my own piece of paradise.

It was to that same spot my then fiancé took me to escape from the gruelling study sessions for my final exams that threatened to take my life – at least that was the way I felt. We discovered another treasure in Codrington College where the abnormally low temperatures caused one to pause and question whether he or she was still in hot sunny Barbados.

To my horror and chagrin on another trip to St John we stopped at (of all places) a rum shop! Up until that memorable point my life’s existence revolved around home, school and church. My heart felt as though it would beat right out of my chest cavity and I was convinced I would have a heart attack for simply darkening the door of such an establishment. Those symptoms quickly disappeared after I sunk my teeth into one of the best ham cutters I have ever had. And of course everyone knows that the best ham cutters come from ‘in the back’.

On our way back from St John on another occasion several years later, the blue skies had already given way to deep purple and orange hues and the stars had begun to flicker. Night had caught us on the winding roads but this was a drive we had done many times before and if it was at all possible my husband could do it with his eyes closed.

We had just rounded another corner, thankfully well within the speed limit, when all of a sudden each of my senses was assaulted. I was momentarily blinded by half dozen of the brightest lights I had ever seen on a car. At least I believe it was a car, as those beams prevented any normal human being from classifying this hitherto unidentified object. As the vehicle roared by I felt my eardrums vibrating at speeds that threatened to rip the thin membranes to shreds. My nostrils burned as a result of the noxious fumes from the exhaust and I am sure I could taste every additive that propelled that machine. The speed with which this automobile zoomed by left a chill in the air, or maybe it was unadulterated fear I was experiencing, that caused me to feel this way.  Somewhere in my mind I was convinced that in full four-part harmony I heard the hymn Nearer my God to Thee being sung and I expected to see Gabriel within the next few moments.

After what seemed like an eternity I dared to glance out the window and I noticed with jaw-dropping amazement that the blades of grass on the opposite side of the road were all inclined in one direction as if they were dominoes which had been toppled. Several questions, dare I say, flew into my head . . . .

Did one of our ministers get his wish and we suddenly had another airport on our little island? This had to be the case because what we saw must have been a low-flying aircraft on its final approach to land. Were the local law enforcement vehicles capable of catching a vehicle travelling just under the speed of light on our country’s roads? If such a driver were to be caught what would be the penalty? Would he or she receive a ticket, or maybe a court appearance or perhaps a picture in the media displaying the wrist of the offender connected to the steering wheel by handcuffs?

Thankfully I have never witnessed a severe road accident and I hope I never have to carry the burden of such.  Let me hasten to point out that I am not saying speeding is the only risk factor for serious and fatal road traffic accidents. However, I cannot help but wonder whether there would be a reduction in the severity of these accidents if we drove well within the speed limits. We receive the road safety tips via various forms of media so that there is no excuse to be made by our road users. The police officers, the insurance company personnel and the Barbados Road Safety Association members can only do so much to try to reduce the death, destruction and disability that follow serious road traffic accidents.   Each of us has a part to play in keeping the numbers of accidents on our streets to a minimum.

Since the incident I have taken several trips back to St John but whether fortunately or unfortunately I have not had another rum shop ham cutter. That situation needs to be remedied as soon as possible, but of course I will ensure there are no wings on my vehicle.

Source: (Renee Boyce is a medical doctor, a wife, a mother and a Christian, who is committed to Barbados’ development)

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