TUESDAY’S deadly accident near Charlieville, which involved three vehicles including a PTSC bus, raises disturbing questions over road safety standards.
Reports suggest the accident, which caused the deaths of two senior citizens and injured dozens more, was triggered when a garbage truck blew out one of its tyres. The truck crashed into a Blue Waters delivery vehicle which then collided with the bus. Road safety experts say all of it was preventable.
Garbage trucks that patrol on mornings are normally part of a fleet dedicated to each local government corporation. It should be ascertained where the truck involved was coming from and whether it was subject to proper checks on Tuesday morning.
Indeed, it should be ascertained whether all corporations and state agencies that have custody of such vehicles are conducting proper checks. More generally, the accident underlines the importance of vehicle inspection. Were these all subject to inspection?
While the State has a role to play in this regard, it is also the case that all private persons and companies have a duty to be proactive to ensure their fleet meet the required standards. It is not only for the Ministry of Works, but also operators to ensure vehicles are road-worthy on a regular basis.
However, it is the responsibility of the State to ensure that basic things like barriers are placed on highways to minimise risk. The Arrive Alive president Sharon Inglefield has called for these basic barriers to be in place, in addition to proper markings, lighting, signage, roundabouts, pedestrian crossings and cycle lanes.
Tuesday’s accident makes plain that the State’s priorities have not been where they should be. Expansion of the road network into under serviced areas should not be at the expense of basic maintenance and safety standards.
The fact that the bus in which passengers died is one normally associated with a higher degree of safety also shines a light on the state of the State’s fleet as well as the way speed can increase risk. This incident is being investigated by authorities who will determine all of the facts.
But few will disagree with the frequent claim that road rage and speeding are problems in our society. And if we do not change our attitude to our fellow citizens on the road, we will continue to perpetuate a dangerous driving culture.
Worryingly, a survivor of the accident had cause to call for a psychology unit at each health institution to treat crash survivors. Though treated for a physical injury, no attention was paid to his mental health.
Hours after the ordeal, he was left to face the public transport system again: to travel home on his own. Such a journey would be an obvious trigger for anyone. That no counsel was offered him is incredible.