Burn their pockets! - Radcliffe Lewis wants tougher fines for traffic breaches
As the country continues to contend with the novel coronavirus, former head of the traffic police, retired Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, believes the country also faces a pandemic of road crashes.
Lewis, 69, told THE STAR that if hefty fines are imposed, individuals would be deterred from committing road traffic violations and, ultimately, this would reduce carnage on the roads. Preliminary numbers, according to the Road Safety Council, show that 482 persons died on the nation's roads as a result of crashes in 2021.
Lewis highlighted speeding, distracted driving, dangerous and careless driving, as well as ganja smoking as the major causes. He reasoned that police operations are often thwarted by motorists who flash their lights to oncoming traffic, signalling them of the police's presence. He said persons slow down when approaching the 'speed traps' and then speed away after passing them.
Lewis said that persons should be immediately arrested for speeding.
"It is an automatic seizure. The police should wreck the car [place it on a wrecker] and bring it to the police station for safekeeping and then that is going to play in your pocket. In addition, you going to get persons to come and bail you. So all around, you going to have to be spending money. That is the key you know, for you committing the offence, to burn your pocket. So, in that respect, you have to be draconian," Lewis explained.
The most prevalent cause of road fatalities, according to Lewis, is smoking marijuana as it impairs one's judgement and causes one to lose control of one's senses. But he said that there is a shortage of police personnel to adequately police the roads.
"They use the traffic personnel to do station guard, they use them to do other things away from traffic. If a traffic corporal or traffic constable is doing station guard duty now or station command duty and he comes on duty at 6 p.m., he doesn't come on duty during the day. He resumes duty 6 p.m., and conclude duty at 6 a.m. the next morning. When you see him in the morning, he's off the road because he's on rest period. Maybe the other day he's on day off and the following day, he's detained again on station guard duty. So maybe one day for the week, that traffic specialist is on duty and that must stop," Lewis stressed.
For motorcyclists, who account for 34 per cent of fatalities, Lewis wants to see pillion riders banned.
"Once you see a bike with a pillion that must arouse the police's suspicion and you deal with that biker accordingly, once he or she is caught. They should also limit the horsepower, or the power of the bike that comes into the island [because] some of them too fast. A lot of bikers, too, are on the road now working with restaurants and fast-food places doing deliveries. The police must ensure that they have green plates, no matter what it is. All the police have to do is send them to the Transport Authority to get the green plates and if you don't have it, you can't ride," he urged. Lewis pleaded with motorists to drive within the speed limits.
"I am not going to tell you not to drink and drive. All I'm going to tell you is if you drink one, don't drink two. Don't drink until you get drunk and you get incapable of handling your vehicle. The last time I said that I had the lowest fatalities in history. Drive within the speed limits, don't be in any hurry, and don't be in any haste," he said.