Sky-high traf­fic fines won’t change be­hav­iour

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - THE ED­I­TOR, Sir:

WITH THE deaths of our peo­ple on the roads, the in­stinct is to im­pose harsher penal­ties to com­pel com­pli­ance based on our his­tory. But, with­out more anal­y­sis to un­der­stand and treat with the rea­sons be­hind the re­al­i­ties, we will not see the im­prove­ments we de­sire as greater puni­tive mea­sures have never proven to be a de­ter­rent.

For­mer op­po­si­tion sen­a­tor Arthur Wil­liams echoed re­lated logic when he said that the speed lim­its needed to be re­viewed as they had been the same since 1938. He went on to point out that ve­hi­cles had im­proved and the laws should be changed to match the lat­est de­vel­op­ments. When last have you driven or seen a ve­hi­cle that is not de­fec­tive go­ing at 20km for any pro­tracted pe­riod? Th­ese un­rea­son­able re­quire­ments just add fur­ther to a cul­ture of ig­nor­ing the law as they are con­sid­ered to make no sense.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional re­search, “Deal­ing with the preven­tion and re­duc­tion of road ac­ci­dents com­monly refers to three ap­proaches, namely, en­vi­ron­ment en­gi­neer­ing so­lu­tions, ed­u­ca­tion, and en­force­ment.” Yet we at­tempt to fo­cus al­most ex­clu­sively on en­force­ments. In­ter­est­ingly, though, the data don’t con­ceive of en­force­ment the way we tend to do. “The pri­mary fo­cus for suc­cess­ful en­force­ment should be on in­creas­ing sur­veil­lance lev­els to en­sure that per­ceived ap­pre­hen­sion risk is high,” con­tin­ued the in­ter­na­tional re­search.

It’s time for us to stop giv­ing en­ti­ties like the Na­tional Road Safety Coun­cil a free pass for its fail­ure to ef­fec­tively ed­u­cate and in­flu­ence be­havioural change. The Na­tional Works Agency must also be called out for its fail­ure to ef­fec­tively zone, and pro­vide sig­nage and traf­fic lights that could help to save lives. And the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force has dis­played an in­abil­ity to have a sus­tained and ad­e­quate pres­ence on the roads to de­ter vi­o­la­tions and pro­mote safer use of the pub­lic spa­ces.

If we con­tinue to give th­ese free passes, we will find that the cost of their fail­ures will be passed on to us in in­creased puni­tive fines, which high­light an im­moral­ity in which not wear­ing a seat belt could at­tract a greater fine than be­trayal of pub­lic trust.

MARK CAMP­BELL

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