T&T racks up 70,000 traffic offences in 2014

5,000 charged during first six weeks of 2015

Reshma Ragoonath
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Deodat Dulalchan
Even as millions continue to be spent on programmes to help curb delinquent driving, the Police Service has recorded an estimated 70,000 traffic violations nationwide for 2014. And not even the hefty fines seem to have made a dent in driver delinquency. As of February 11, some 5,000 people were charged for various offences. Assistant Commissioner of Police Deodat Dulalchan, who is in charge of Mobile, expressed displeasure over the startling figures during an interview with the Sunday Guardian.

While Dulalchan stopped short of saying T&T motorists are lawless, he did concede that although the TTPS has engaged in education drives “we still find motorists are not obliging with our regulations and the laws.” Last year, he said, Traffic Branch issued 11,523 tickets for some of the tens of thousands of offences committed by drivers.

The most prevalent offence, he said, was using mobile devices while driving. Some 2,329 drivers were ticketed by Traffic Branch for the offence which carries a $1,500 fine or imprisonment for three months. Breach of traffic lights, he said, came in second with 1,377 tickets being issued, while 1,345 motorists were ticketed for not wearing seatbelts. Added to this, he said, “We have a lot of drivers who still have a lot of defective devices on their vehicles.”

He said two years ago, the Iroadsafe programme and, more recently, the education drive by the TTPS were started. He said 10,000 booklets on ticketable offences were distributed to motorists at major thoroughfares and highways. Dulalchan said, “It takes time for us to reap the benefits of it (the programmes). [But] when I look at the figures for the last five years, for the same comparative period January 1 to February 10 we would have had about a 35 per cent decrease in fatal accidents.”

He said the TTPS was “doubling” efforts on the road and using scientific approaches to address driver delinquency.

Carnival caution

As party-goers embark on two days of merriment for Carnival, ACP Dulalchan issued a strong warning to would-be drunk drivers that the TTPS will be tripling its detection efforts. “Whilst we understand there is a time of merriment and so on, but in order for us to ensure safety of our road users we would be exercising zero tolerance,” Dulalchan said. He said between January 1 and February 10, 200 drivers were charged for driving under the influence.

For Carnival, he said, the TTPS expected a greater volume of motorists going to events and carnival locations or opting to go on hikes, so “we would be doubling and tripling our patrols on all of our highways and major roads.” He said he was expecting the general public to give police officers their support and “to drive and carry about themselves in such a manner so that they will be around for a long time.”

Dulalchan revealed that on Tuesday morning after Machel Montano’s Monk Monte concert, 2,694 people were tested along Ariapita Avenue and 14 people were arrested for being over the limit. “I suspect that people run the risk; they tell themselves that there may not be any checks at all,” he said. The TTPS, he said, was trying to change the culture of driving in T&T and establishing sober zones where party-goers can voluntarily test their alcohol limit.

“We really want people to know that we are not all about enforcement, that is why we are doing all of this voluntary testing. We are all about seeing if we could cause a change in peoples’ behaviour and make them understand and appreciate how valuable they are to their families and their children,” Dulalchan added.

Look out for Sober Zones
Sober Zones, he said, would be set up at Maracas and Caura River on Ash Wednesday where annual Carnival cool-down fetes are held.

Posted on February 18, 2015 in Local News

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