(Observer)The long-held claim that the younger section of the population is largely to blame for traffic collisions across Antigua and Barbuda is being refuted by the Head of the Police Traffic Department, Superintendent Elson Quammie.
Thirty-year-old Dominican athlete, Bram Sanderson, is the country’s latest road fatality, while his pillion rider – 29-year-old Daniel Jno-Baptiste – was forced to undergo emergency treatment at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre (SLBMC) for serious injuries suffering during the incident.
That incident has reignited discussions about road safety and the nature of some of the collisions being recorded, with some members of the public insisting that ‘young drivers’ are mostly to blame.
Not so though, says Superintendent Quammie, who went on to reveal the age group that is actually proving most dangerous on the roads.
“I wouldn’t put the blame on young drivers … our stats are not saying that 19, 20 or even 21-year-olds are causing the most accidents in Antigua. [They’re] showing that middle-aged persons from 30, 35 [and] up are the ones who cause most of the accidents, not the young drivers … even up to age 54,55.
“The younger ones will take a higher risk still, more than a grown-up person, but the number of accidents that we’re seeing, I wouldn’t nail it down to young people, because the stats are not showing that,” Quammie told our newsroom.
The traffic boss explained that the statistics are gathered as part of a deliberate effort to determine where the most danger lies on the roads – that’s the reason he says investigators make sure to record the age of those involved in collisions.
The incident involving Sanderson and Jno-Baptiste occurred at the intersection of American and Factory Roads – in the vicinity of Harney Motors – on the morning of August 13. According to reports, the two were travelling east on a motorcycle, when a pickup truck – travelling south – collided with them near the intersection.
The men were transported to hospital soon after, while the driver of the truck was said to have avoided any serious injuries.
While calling on the entire country to take greater pride in being cautious and considerate drivers, Superintendent Quammie also commended the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board (ABTB) for the driver’s licensing system that it has in place.
He added that complaints about the system not being effective and that it contributes to the road accidents are not fair.
“I think Transport Board has a very good system in place. It’s a very good system for young persons [and] the curriculum they have is very intense. So, some persons might believe that ‘Transport Board is not strict enough’ or ‘the exam is not strict enough’, but it’s a very hectic system in order to obtain a driver’s license.
“You have to be very competent; you have to go through so many different exams, you have to watch a video, you have to know all the roads [and] all the streets…you [have to] study the highway code”
What Quammie believes is taking place is that persons are, for whatever reason, failing to execute the lessons learnt through the process once they actually become licensed drivers.
“Persons pay a lot of attention to it, but when they get their license it’s a different thing, they don’t show that they really went through the vigorous testing in order to be competent drivers.
“So, I wouldn’t blame [the situation] on the system at Transport Board at all, it’s just that persons are not paying attention after they become competent drivers,” he said.