Stay alert, arrive alive – Le Mauricien


ZOHRA FATEMAH

Another one gone. Another orphan, another widow, just another broken family left behind to deal with the emptiness of a dear one gone. A family now burdened by such a tragedy that shall change them forever. A new year, not yet here fully and still so many have already left their traces drawn in white on the coldness of the tar before even being able to leave a mark of themselves in this world. So many lives, or too many lives gone on the road, already.

During the past year, following the increase in accidents on our road, there have been innumerable law enforcements and massive awareness campaigns that have been conducted to sensitize people around the island on the importance of road safety. Despite all this, at this time of the year, we currently have thirty-two deaths on the road.

Maybe something is lacking in the way we are educating our people on this issue. Maybe, the right information is not reaching the right target people. Maybe, we should re-instill the road safety culture in people and that too people of all age, irrespective. Hence, maybe, we should start by our young children, inculcating a road safety behaviour in them since a very young age, so that they grow up with this attitude, since a high percentage of the road users consist of students who are mainly pedestrians.

Being of the most defenseless, pedestrians should always maintain constant vigilance whenever on the street. They should always remember that, at all times they should use the designated crosswalk areas to cross the road. Always use Zebra crossing. By disregarding the green “walk” signal of a traffic light a pedestrian risks both his life and that of others around him. Stay on the pavement, if there is no footway or footpath, walk on the right-hand side of the road so you can see oncoming traffic. You should take extra care and be prepared to walk in single line, especially on narrow roads or in poor light. And never stand to close to a kerb. A pedestrian is also likely to be involved in an accident when he or she darts in front of a vehicle or in so doing, jeopardizes only your own life.

Pedestrians should always look both ways when they are about to cross. Use your eyes and ears, look out and listen out for any vehicles around you. Do not cross at road bends, your visual field is limited in this part of the road and hence, you cannot see arriving vehicles, and drivers cannot see you. Avoid the blind spots. Despite the fact that there is no strict law, try and carry some reflective materials when you are out on the road when it is dark so that drivers can see you from a distance. Be seen, Be Safe.

Another of the main causes of accidents are driver distractions. Lack of discipline, and the refusal of a driver to follow traffic rules can be considered as one of the main reasons so many have lost their lives on the road. This includes drunken drivers, using cellular phones while driving, speeding, aggressive driving or even eating while driving, amongst others.

Hence, it is best for a driver to always be alert whenever on the road and never to assume knowing what the intentions of other drivers or other users are. One of the main negligence of drivers are that they do not maintain the required distance between vehicles, so doing, can help prevent pile-ups in case of accidents or simply prevent a mishap itself. Another insignificant negligence of drivers which is often noticed is the wrong use of the flasher, which is a way of communication between drivers, hence always indicate before you turn or change lanes.

Avoid use of high beam lights when there is adequate street light at night. This causes immense discomfort to lot of drivers who must squint their eyes when a beam of intense light is focused on their eyes, momentarily blinding them.

Never drive without your seatbelts, make sure other passengers are buckled up too. Always, buckle the passenger in the rear seat, essentially when it is a child. Children can be reckless during travel, it is always safest to ensure that they have their seat belt at all time. Above all, always respect the speed limit.

Trivial advice? There is nothing, such as trivialities on the road, every details and actions count. So whenever, on the road, driver or walker remember to obey all traffic rules. Remember that the laws have been put in place for our own security and not against you.

Being on a motorbike, which is amongst the vulnerable users of the road, I am bound to wonder about the causes which bring a tragic end to someone’s life. Unfortunately, so often or too often, a road incident is the result of a moment of carelessness or by times a reckless user of the road who has momentarily bypassed a traffic safety meant for the safeguard of everyone.

The important thing is to stay alert at all times while using the roads. We must be aware of what is happening around us. Road safety is very much up to how we use the roads. Use them carefully and we may be able to use them for a long time. Use them carelessly and we may never be able to use them again. Stop accidents before they stop you. Stay alert, arrive alive.



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