#Article (Archive)

Heralding New Traffic Laws, Enforcing the Old

Jun 26, 2008, 5:58 AM

The new bill prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving and, in another section, requiring the use of seat belts, holds out hope to many that road accidents will now diminish considerably. It should be appreciated by drivers that phoning while driving could create a high risk of road accidents, and some fatal accidents for that matter. Use of a mobile while driving carries two risk factors; it mostly compels the driver to have only one hand on the steering wheel; if confronted with sudden danger of collision, quick control or maneuver may not always be possible and this could lead to an accident. Secondly, use of his phone may require a driver to concentrate very intensively at some stage, and this could also lead to an accident. The legislation would therefore help reduce such accidents if not totally, at least drastically. But the legislation should ban headphones as well, because where as they avoid the first risk of one handed driving and control; it is also, like the hand phone, caught in the second risk of affected concentration.

Similarly the section of the bill requiring the use of seat belts has obvious protective merit. There have been accidents and casualties that could have been prevented by the simple use of a seat belt.

The belt secures a would-be casualty from being ejected through the windscreen or making serious impact with the steering wheel or dashboard. With this safety mechanism lots of accidents could be averted.

But everything said and done, there is still a need to tackle the root cause of many an accident, and this relates to speeding. Vehicles are being driven at such high speeds that there is no way of stopping or averting danger. The result? Serious or fatal accidents coupled at times with damage to public property or third party property. With regard to the new laws on the wearing of seatbelts we will see the saving of individual lives because of their implementation. Unfortunately when it comes to speeding many more lives are at risk. If two cars collide then the occupants of both are at risk. There is also the issue of innocent by-standers to be considered. The potential for injury where speeding is involved is far greater. We have witnessed many such accidents along the Banjul-Serrekunda highway and they abound on the Senegambia road. This being the case, it is therefore also necessary for the police to put up many more speed limits already imposed by law. This problem area has assumed greater urgency now that the rains are here as the roads will become extra slippery.


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