The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) is considering the establishment of a road safety organisation to tackle the unsafe use of roads on the island.
Police Commissioner Vernon Francois told St Lucia News Online (SNO) in an exclusive interview that this move is aimed at curbing the increasing number of road accidents across the island. The top cop opined that an institution of this nature will help to educate the public on safe road usage.
Francois said the idea was proposed by the RSLPF to government, who is giving serious attention to the issue. According to him, the objective is to have the police collaborate with faith-based organisations and community groups to make up the organisation’s leadership structure. The Antigua and Barbuda Road Safety Group is being considered as one of the models to be used for a similar organisation here.
While a Road Transport Board is currently in place, it does not cater for education and training that seeks to promote road safety. The top cop told SNO that the board could be expanded to include this organisation. However, the plan is to make this an independent organisation that will have the inclusion of all civil society.
At present, he said there is no organisation or group whose main objective is to create awareness about the safe use of roadways and provide education and training in that regard.
Asked what measures are being taken by the RSLPF to help with the reduction of road accidents, Francois said it is not practical to have police officers at every street corner. However, he admitted that there is a need for a wider traffic response system, especially since Castries is the only police station that has a traffic department. He told SNO that the force is currently looking at creating traffic departments at strategic locations across the island, mainly in Anse La Raye in the west and Dennery in the south.
While this was not catered for in this year’s budget, the police chief said that it is a work in progress. He explained that it would take solid financial investment to procure motorcycles, vehicles and equipment to aid in such a development. More human resources will also be required to do the job.
The Ministries of Infrastructure and National Security are the two main ministries involved in this discussion, and will take the necessary direction on the establishment of such an organisation.
Besides this, Francois assured that police officers are frequently engaged in conducting routine traffic checks. He said this is not enough, while stressing that drivers need to take more caution when using the roadways. The police chief therefore reiterated the need for the establishment of a road safety organisation, dedicated to road safety issues. Despite this, the police he said has been doing all it can to ensure that enforcement of the law are in place and legal charges are instituted where necessary.
In responding to whether speeding or driving under the influence is the two main factors for accidents on the island, Francois said it is a combination of both. He explained that besides that there is now a rising concern over the use of cell phones for texting and talking, while driving.
This new development, he said, could prove harmful and cause an increase in road accidents. He also cautioned drivers to be alert for pedestrians and ensure that they drive within the prescribed speed limits.
He blamed careless driving however for most of the accidents that leads to fatalities.