Police cautions road users after alarming increase in pedestrian deaths

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Police cautions road users after alarming increase in pedestrian deaths

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) is cautioning road users, in particular, pedestrians to exercise caution when walking in the vicinity of roadways and when crossing the road at busy areas. This has become necessary due to the increasing statistics in relation to road traffic deaths.

On Tuesday 31st August, at around 7:55pm Cindy Blanc, 43 years old of Cemetery Street, Heights of Guanapo was killed after being fatally struck by a 5 Ton Flatbed Wrecker along the Eastern Main Road Wallerfield in the Northern Division. According to figures from the Traffic & Highway Patrol Branch Roadway Surveillance Unit (RSU), this incident carries this year’s road death figure to fifty-three (53) compared to sixty-five (65) for the same period in 2020.

Although this represents an 18% decrease in the national road fatality figure, Ms. Blanc’s death carries the total amount of pedestrians killed on the roads to twenty-one (21) for the year. Road safety data indicates a disturbing thirty-one (31%) percent increase in pedestrian fatalities over the same period last year.

Currently pedestrians are the largest category of road user deaths accounting for forty percent (40%) of road traffic fatalities for the year.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of pedestrian deaths occurred while persons were attempting to cross the Highways whereas seventy-one percent (71%) occurred along main roads. Further analysis of the data revealed that seventy-six percent (76%) of pedestrian deaths for this year occurred at night and interestingly of that, forty-four percent (44%) occurred during pre-curfew hours of 7:00pm-9:00pm.

TTPS Road Safety Project Coordinator Sergeant Brent Batson said the data suggested a correlation between pre-curfew driver behaviour associated with speeding and pedestrian deaths as seventy-one (71%) of the pedestrian deaths during the pre-curfew hours occurred on main roads which carry a maximum speed limit is 50 kilometers per hour.

The Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, had ordered Divisional Commanders to increase high visibility patrols during pre-curfew hours to deter speeding drivers who were rushing to beat the curfew time, which translated into increased unnecessary risk to both themselves and other road users such as pedestrians.

TTPS curfew anti-speed night traffic exercises have resulted in five hundred and twenty-five (525) speeding tickets being issued to motorists with one driver being caught driving at a speed of one hundred and seventy-seven kilometers per hour (177 kmh) along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway by the Northern Division Traffic Team.

Senior Superintendent of the Traffic & Highway Patrol Branch, Wayne Mystar expressed his disappointment that drivers continued to engage in reckless road use to “beat the curfew”. Mystar stressed that once persons can reasonably justify to officers the reason for them still being on the road during the curfew period without a curfew permit, officers can extend a level of discretion wherever possible and within reason.

The public can also call the Covid emergency number for assistance during the curfew at 612-3876, 480-2000. Mystar further added “there is no need to engage in unsafe driving which is likely to put you, your passengers or other roads users in either the hospital or the morgue.”