A former president of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) is calling for an immediate end to the practice of drivers of public service vehicles (PSVs) stopping traffic to facilitate disembarking passengers crossing the road.
The appeal follows closely on the heels of this island’s 19th road fatality on Tuesday.
Hanannia Reeves, a student of the Princess Margaret Secondary School, was struck by a car while attempting to cross the road near his home at Campaign Castle, St George on Tuesday evening.
Police say the 13-year-old had just alighted a minibus and was attempting to cross in front of the bus when he was struck down by an overtaking car.
In delivering the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) lunchtime lecture at party headquarters on George Street, St Michael today, former BRSA head Junior Jordan, who is also board member of the Barbados Transport Authority, was careful not to link his comments to Tuesday’s unfortunate incident.
However, he said that the practice by PSV drivers amounted to “a disaster waiting to happen”, arguing that pedestrians must at all times have clear sight of the road in both directions in order to determine for themselves if it is safe to make the crossing.
“Stopping and stretching out your hand to allow a passenger to cross the road is absolutely and categorically not the correct way to facilitate persons crossing the road. It is actually a recipe for disaster and death,” said Jordan, while noting that the issue had been a hot topic all week in call-in programmes and the shops and other places.
“No driver has the right to call out anybody and any pedestrian should use their own eyes to see that the road is clear and use their own volition to only move when they are absolutely sure that it is safe,” he stressed.
Jordan also suggested that “any person alighting from any vehicle should wait until the vehicle has moved away then look right, then left before determining that it is safe to cross,” warning that “the other way that we have now become accustomed to seeing is totally wrong”.
The road safety activist further suggested that education, coupled with the right mix of deterrents be put in place to root out the practice.
“While I say yes to education, there is an old adage which states that ‘you can take the horse to the water but you can’t make it drink’. This is an attitudinal problem and what we need to do is to keep reinforcing but persons must also be willing to learn,” Jordan said.
He called on all drivers to show pedestrians the same
courtesy they would wish for themselves, lamenting that pedestrians were often made to pay the ultimate price for the mistakes of other road users. “We must put ourselves in the position of a pedestrian and if we do that we will recognize that life is quite difficult for a pedestrian, so we need to help them by slowing down. These days people don’t slow down as everyone seems to want to get where they are going in a hurry,” he said.