IT’S A COMMON sight at Carnival: big trucks driving along the street amid crowds of revellers. These trucks are used to provide music, serve food and drinks and to offer portable washroom facilities. Yet, it seems little thought has gone into the safety aspect raised by these large vehicles.
Two tragic events this week highlight the need for better arrangements to be in place.
On Monday, a visitor to this country who was doing nothing but soaking in the Carnival experience died in Woodbrook because of his proximity to a music truck. Kingsley Robardier was chipping down the road when the driver of the truck began to reverse, knocking the tourist to the ground then running over him. The tourist died at the scene.
Hours earlier, a 30-year-old Cocorite woman suffered head injuries while attempting to climb onto a truck on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook. According to reports, Joan Stephens attempted to climb onto a truck to use one of the portable toilets when she lost her balance. Both incidents reveal separate kinds of hazards.
In relation to the fatal death of Robardier, questions must be asked about how the truck was being driven. What effort was made to ensure the way was clear before reversal? Generally, traffic regulations require vehicles to keep a safe distance away from trucks ahead. Are these rules effectively enforced in relation to revellers on the street? What equipment can be deployed to ensure drivers have a complete line of sight before reversing? And what systems can be put in place so that reversals can be less dangerous?
The second incident reveals the inherent problems that arise when trucks participate in the parade. Such trucks are not specially designed for Carnival and therefore do not tend to be ergonomic, especially when we factor in their elevation. When considering the purpose they are meant to serve – to provide service to tired or tipsy revellers – they actually pose a serious threat.
There needs to be stronger regulation, above and beyond normal road traffic rules, to guide the use of big trucks in Carnival. These regulations should address what is expected of drivers, who sometimes drive with disdain even in the middle of crowds and mas bands.
Regulations should also address the type and make of truck used, as well as the need for special equipment, perhaps cameras, which could allow better monitoring, and also protective guards that minimise the risk of revellers coming into easy contact with the wheels. And what about age-old direct human surveillance? An extra pair of eyes and a warning shout can go a long way in averting danger.
Finally, as hard as it may sound, masqueraders should resist the urge to “hold on to the big truck.” They need to keep as far away as they can.