AS Minister of Works and Transport, I note with great pleasure, the statistical data issued by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), which indicated the lowest number of road fatalities in 63 years. Evidently, Trinidad and Tobago recorded 96 traffic deaths in 2020, the lowest since 1957.
This achievement is in no way a coincidence. Rather, it is the direct result of boosted community education on road safety, the combined effort of the TTPS, the Ministry of Works and Transport and road safety non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Arrive Alive and other stakeholder agencies.
Further to these efforts, the Ministry of Works and Transport launched the UTurn System in May 2020, forging real-time connectivity among the Judiciary, the TTPS, the Licensing Authority, Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation (TTPOST) and the recently established Traffic Enforcement Centre Unit. This alliance laid the foundation for the operationalisation of the Demerit Points System, geared at changing the behaviour of drivers on the nation’s roads.
Based on statistics provided by the Traffic Enforcement Centre Unit for the period May to December 30, 2020, the occurrence count for road traffic violations includes the following: 9,254 for the failure of a driver and any passenger 17 years and over to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion; 6,991 for the breach of traffic signs; 3,908 exceeding the specified speed limit by ten to 20 km per hour; and 3,492 for driving while holding or using a hand held mobile device. Additionally, 1,000 errant motorists are set to have their driver’s permit suspended.
Suffice it to say, it remains a concern that still, so many drivers continue to take such a deliberate risk to violate established road traffic laws and increase their vulnerability to either suffer themselves and potentially others to serious injury or fatality in the event of a vehicular crash.
Indeed, the work toward positive behaviour change must continue and, as citizens, we each have a part to play.
As delighted as we are at this overall historic success, one death remains one too many. As such, the Ministry of Works and Transport continues relentlessly toward implementing additional road safety measures that will continue the momentum of saving lives.
Currently, the ministry is preparing to launch an education campaign on the amendments to the “Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic (windscreen and window tint) Regulations 2020’’, which came into effect on August 3, 2020.
This amended legislation provides guidelines, for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago, on the application of tint to vehicle windscreens and windows which hampers visibility and compromises road safety. It establishes the use of approved tint measuring devices by law enforcement and provides exemptions for the use of darker tint in specific and necessary circumstances.
While it is understood that more work needs to be done, I take this opportunity to express my sincerest thanks to the people of T&T. We should feel proud that our overall attitudes and behaviour toward road safety are changing, with the 2020 road fatality rate being the lowest in 63 years.
I thank you for your support and continued encouragement as the Ministry of Works and Transport, through key road safety initiatives and legislative amendments to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, Ch. 48:50, continues to strive towards attaining and maintaining zero road fatalities on the roads of Trinidad and Tobago.