Cops on lookout for pre-curfew mad rush drivers

Police on patrol in Broadway, Arima on Sunday evening at the start of the curfew. 
Photo by Roger Jacob -
Police on patrol in Broadway, Arima on Sunday evening at the start of the curfew. Photo by Roger Jacob -

DESCRIBING the nation's highways and main roads as racetrack courses an hour before the curfew starts, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is promising swift action against errant, speeding and reckless drivers.

In fact, speaking on Monday morning at a press briefing, Griffith said a plan would be in place where there would be an increased police presence Monday evening to catch speeding drivers just before the clock strikes 9 pm, for the start of the curfew.

The top cop said that based on intel and statistics, the police have noted an increase in movement and activities on the streets.

He spoke of an emerging trend where some people would drink and socialise until the very last few minutes before curfew time and then jump in their cars and speed in an effort to avoid being found outside after the curfew.

He marveled that despite this uptick in reckless driving, there have been no major accidents or fatalities because of this rush.

"Right now, the most dangerous thing to do is to be out on the streets in the last two hours or the last hour before curfew."

"Let us please be mature and stop trying to maximise our liming or socialising and then try to get home just before the curfew period.

Police Commissioner Gary Griffith announces a crackdown on speeding pre-curfew drivers during a press conference on Monday at the Police Admin Building in Port of Spain. Photo by Sureash Cholai

Griffith said the police have also noted an increase in criminal activity during that two-hour period before the curfew. "They (criminals) feel this is the time to act, to do their thing whether it is robbery or whatever and then get back in their hole.

"We intend to put heavy emphasis (and) you will be seeing the number of roadblocks and patrols we have, it is going to be heavily enforced. It is a deterrent, it is not here to catch anyone it is for us to be responsible, to be mature and I am advising people accordingly."

Griffith said drivers and would-be criminals can look forward to a greater police presence in the hours leading up to the start of the curfew. He said more patrols, roadblocks, DUI testing and road traffic checks will be come the norm.

Contacted for comment, Police Road Safety Co-ordinator Sgt Brent Batson welcomed the commissioner's decision to increase checks and enforcement in the hours leading up to the curfew, saying that he too has seen first-hand the pre-curfew mad rush on the nation's roads.

He said while the police can exercise some flexibility in enforcement of the law, drivers have a responsibility to plan and time their journey to get home.

"In the Traffic and Highway Patrol branch, what we have noticed is even 30 minutes before the curfew begins, people are driving at very high speeds to get to their destinations.

"The police will use a common sense's not like at exactly 9.01 pm we'll block the road, but we're also asking people to plan their journeys better.

"The officers will apply that common sense approach so it doesn't make sense people exposing themselves to that risk of speeding, getting in an accident and then adding stress to the already overburdened health system. We're asking people to please balance their time."

Batson also called on people needing public transport to manage their times better in order to get home before the curfew, recalling instances where people without transport had to walk long distances to get home when taxi drivers stopped operating as the curfew hour approached.

"The stands are of course empty because the taxi drivers don't want to be caught outside either and you see people having to walk long distances.

"When the police stop them and speak with them, they explain what happened and in some cases the police even have to drop them home."

The Beetham Highway on Saturday evening an hour before the 7 pm curfew came into effect. Photo by Roger Jacob-

He also called on drivers to use all necessary precautions noting that even though there may be less traffic due to the state of emergency, accidents are always a possibility.

This was the case when a video circulating on social media over the weekend showed an accident at the Macoya intersection allegedly involving a member of the TT Defence Force who is currently before the courts on criminal charges.

Batson said that as of Monday afternoon, there were 37 fatal road traffic accidents compared to 49 for the same period last year.


"Cops on lookout for pre-curfew mad rush drivers"

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