THE STATE may well have cause in rejoicing at the record level of revenue from fines from which it now stands to benefit due to infringements of traffic laws by citizens, but we should all see things a bit differently. The disclosure by police road safety co-ordinator Brent Batson on Wednesday that the Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch had issued 9,640 tickets since January is disturbing because it gives us a clearer picture of the lawlessness on our roads.
These tickets, according to Batson, potentially amount to $9.6 million in fines. That revenue can no doubt be useful in getting much-needed equipment for police officers in the field. However, the fact that citizens are so reckless as to incur such fines during these harsh economic times is a sign of a deeper problem: utter contempt for the laws of the road. Not enough people are mindful of the need for safety and consideration.
Today, as we begin the long Easter holiday weekend, we urge all drivers to be responsible. The holidays are a time of increased recreational activity and with that comes a commensurate level of laxness. All should resist the urge to drink and drive and to flout rules which are clearly designed to ensure the safety of all. In this regard, the police have a vital role to play and they should be given the resources they need to do their job.
According to Batson, the high number of tickets is evidence of a more aggressive approach to road safety and the recent acquisition of additional speed guns.
While the police must be lauded for going the extra mile, long-term and sustained effort is required if we are to make a dent in attitudes. Until then, the tickets will always be just the tip of the iceberg.
Lamentably, 151 drivers have already been arrested and charged for driving under the influence for the year to date. Despite this improvement in detection, a high number of road fatalities still challenges police, with 19 confirmed so far, the same figure as last year. Steps must be taken to carefully investigate and review each and every such incident with a view to generating improvements in response systems as well as preventative measures.
As we go about our business this weekend, whether at the sea-side or at Easter egg hunts, all would do well to remember that anyone found over the legal limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol in their blood could face a fine ranging from $12,000 to $22,500 or a weekend in jail. Serving jail-time is hardly the ideal way to spend this glorious holiday period.