Road safety is a shared responsibility

Road safety is a shared responsibility

By Irimaia Rokosawa
Tuesday 12/12/2023
[Image: Supplied]

In recent times, our nation has witnessed an alarming surge in road fatalities and vehicular accidents, prompting a critical need for all road users to adhere to road safety rules. As the Land Transport Authority (LTA) collaborates closely with the Fiji Police Force, the Ministry of Transport, Fiji Roads Authority and other stakeholders to address this concerning trend, it is imperative for the public to recognise the gravity of the situation and actively contribute to creating safer roads by engaging in responsible driving behaviours and appreciating the value of life.

During the festive season when celebrations and travel are at their peak, the LTA will continue to strongly emphasize the importance of vigilance and strict adherence to road safety rules and standards. The goal is not only to prevent accidents and the devastating loss of precious life, but also to foster a culture of responsible driving that transcends seasons. This can only be achieved if we adopt a change in mindset and adhere to road safety rules and standards. As of 15 November 2023, there have been 72 road fatalities compared to 38 for the same period last year. A number that hits home hard when the causes could easily be avoided.

Speeding (33 fatalities), dangerous driving (10 fatalities) and pedestrians at fault (9 fatalities) continue to top the list of causes of these unfortunate loss of lives on our roads for the year 2023, aside from other causes such as driver fatigue, careless driving, improper overtaking, drink driving and hit and run incidents. LTA enforcement officers at various checkpoints around the country serve one purpose - ensure compliance of road rules and safety for all Fijians. That purpose is aimed at saving your life as a driver, your life as a pedestrian and your life as a passenger. These measures are also vital to mitigating the dangers and risks of bad driving habits.

One troubling issue that has come to light is the existence of a public group on Viber messaging app with over 14,200 members, sharing information about police and LTA checkpoints. The LTA firmly discourages such practices and calls upon the public to embrace their civic duty by championing messages that encourage safe and responsible driving practices instead.

The LTA is also lobbying for an increase in traffic fines and the introduction of demerit points to be issued by the Authority as a deterrent to the alarming spike in road fatalities. It is unfortunate that some drivers continue to disregard road safety rules and as we’ve seen with the recent fatalities, the impact is devastating. The Authority will continue to strengthen its focus and resources on driver licensing testing and issuance; increase road safety education and awareness and roadside enforcement; as well as vehicle inspections to counter the upsurge in road fatalities.

At the heart of this matter is a shared responsibility to save lives on our roads. We recognise that achieving this objective requires a collective effort from all members of society. It is crucial for drivers, pedestrians, and passengers alike to internalise the significance of road safety rules and standards. This involves staying alert, refraining from drink driving, avoiding speeding, and eliminating dangerous and careless driving habits.

The LTA's plea extends beyond compliance with regulations; it is a call for a change in mindset. Instead of seeking ways to evade enforcement officers and checkpoints, individuals should actively promote messages that enhance road safety awareness. This change in perspective is essential to cultivating a culture where the value of human lives takes precedence over shortcuts and irresponsible actions.

As citizens of Fiji, we must recognise that road safety is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative. The lives of our fellow citizens depend on our collective commitment to responsible driving. It is time for each one of us to reflect on our behaviors on the road and consider how we can contribute to making our streets safer for everyone.

The road ahead is paved with the choices we make today. The LTA's efforts, coupled with public support, can usher in a new era of road safety consciousness. By adhering to road safety rules and standards, we not only protect ourselves but also demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of our community. Let us unite in the pursuit of safer roads, working hand in hand to ensure that every journey ends safely for all.

Road Safety Tips from LTA for the Festive Season:

1. Slow down: Reduce your speed to suit the conditions. Wet roads can be slippery and increase your stopping distance.

2. Keep a safe distance: Leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the car in front of you, as wet weather can increase the stopping distance.

3. Use your headlights: In heavy rain, use your headlights to increase visibility for yourself and other drivers. Also, make sure your headlights and taillights are working correctly.

4. Avoid sudden braking and acceleration: Sudden braking and acceleration can cause your vehicle to lose control on wet roads, so instead, try to slow down smoothly and gradually.

5. Beware of hydroplaning: Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water builds up between the tires and the road surface. To avoid this, ensure your tires have good tread depth and drive smoothly and carefully on wet roads.

6. Be cautious at intersections: Wet weather reduces visibility, so take extra care when approaching intersections, and watch for other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.

7. Keep your windows and windscreen clean: A dirty windscreen can reduce visibility even in dry weather, but in wet conditions, it can become a safety hazard. Keep your windows and windscreen clean and clear of debris.

8. Avoid driving through floodwaters

Never drive through floodwaters, as they can be deeper than they appear and can sweep your vehicle off the road. If you must pass through a flooded area, take an alternative route.

9. Check your brakes: Check your brakes regularly, as wet weather can cause them to become less effective. If you notice any issues, have them checked immediately by a qualified mechanic.

10. Stay informed: Check weather forecasts and road conditions before heading out, and be prepared to adjust your plans if necessary. If conditions worsen during your journey, find a safe place to pull over and wait until the weather improves.

Irimaia Rokosawa is the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Land Transport Authority. Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of Communications Fiji Limited. To ensure road safety compliance this festive season, members of the public can assist the LTA by reporting dangerous driving or poor driving behaviour via LTA complaints platforms – Text to 582, email help@lta.com.fj / complaints@lta.com.fj or calling the Call Centre on 3392166.

Complaints can also be filed via the LTA live chat service on our website at https://www.lta.com.fj/

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