There was an increase in fatal road accidents last year with 95 deaths compared to 69 in 2021, a 38 per cent increase. The number of road deaths rose from 75 in 2021 to 95 in 2022, reflecting a 27 per cent increase in lives lost.
Those figures were provided by Minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport Richie Sookhai on Wednesday when he delivered the feature address at a Road Safety Awards function at the ministry’s headquarters in Port-of-Spain.
Sookhai said legislative measures are being put in place to ensure greater road safety.
He praised the 113 awardees comprising police officers, traffic wardens, fire officers, licensing officers and ambulance personnel for their hard work and dedication and noted the devastating effects of traffic injuries and deaths on families and communities.
The awards were sponsored by Woodside Energy.
Among those who attended the function were ACP Wayne Mystar, Arrive Alive president Sharon Inglefield and T&T Police Service (TTPS) road safety project coordinator Brent Batson.
“These tragedies do not only cause immense personal loss but also impact our prosperity and have social and economic repercussions. Experts consider traffic accidents a serious public health crisis, demanding continuous action for change,” Sookhai said.
He added that “we realise that an even greater impact can be achieved by aligning more closely with other stakeholders.”
The minister said the T&T National Road Safety Council (TTNRSC) which was formed last year has come up with a multi-sector approach to reducing fatal road accidents and deaths. The council’s mandate in reducing road traffic-related incidents is setting quantitative road safety targets, finalising the national road safety plan, offering guidance to local government bodies and convening consultation with key stakeholders, he explained.
Sookhai said the ministry’s Traffic Management Branch (TMB) has made significant progress in improving road safety through various initiatives.vTwo achievements were the installation of the rumble strip in accident-prone areas and introduction of line laser machines which have enhanced the standardisation and efficiency of applying critical road markings in urbanised areas.
“We have finalised the decision to replace the cable barrier system with guardrails on the north-south corridor to prevent median crossovers which have been a serious concern.”
Additionally, Sookhai said, “legislative measures are also being put in place, including regulations with regards to parking against the flow of traffic and parking on pedestrian crossings.”
He said the ministry is also pursuing a legislative framework to implement a checkered band maxi taxi system, facilitating safer and more efficient transit in rural areas.
Sookhai also revealed that the TMB has evaluated tenders for the National Transportation Plan, which focuses on road safety.
Inglefield, who delivered welcome remarks, said an important aspect of a first responder’s work is that they must be professionally trained and have tools to do their jobs. These tools include modern working fire tenders, calibrated breathalyzers, more lidar speed guns and ambulances outfitted to paramedic status.
Without addressing aspects of road safety, proactive enforcement and post-crash response people will die, she said.
Inglefield said it was imperative that the TTNRSC’s plan “is not only approved by our Government but that adequate implementation and funding are provided and strict timelines met.”
She said Government said must ensure that the plan becomes a legislative framework.