Recently, the government felt it best to deal with the high vehicular accidents on the nations highways by introducing 50 Lidar speed guns (worth $14 million) to be used by the police service against offenders who drive over the speed limit of 80 km/hour (on our highways) and 50 km/h (on our main roads). The Government stated that speed offenders will be stopped and fined. The fine is $1000 and I believe it increases beyond 100 km/hour. Since its introduction there has been a lot of mixed reviews. Most I found ridiculous and immature.
But first, here is one view of the the situation. Yes it's funny but I want you to think of the bigger picture presented here in this argument.
Speed Limit and Road Fatalities
I believe that the speed guns are long overdue. The speed limit has always been 80 km/hour on our highways but most motorist would argue that it was okay to drive at 100 and even 120 in certain circumstances. So 80 km/hour became like a default speed. I must admit that I too have driven at such speeds in the past, believing it was okay to drive at 100 km/hour. Trucks have even overtaken me on the highway, at this speed. And, yes, I believe that to be reckless driving. At these perceived speeds, Trinidad and Tobago saw an alarming road fatality of 147 and 128 road accidents in 2015 (source).
Now their is a petition out to increase the speed limit to 100 and possibly 120. The petition compares ourselves to countries like the USA and Spain where there are long and enduring highways. The introduction of the speed guns is meant to enforce the law, not what we believe we should be doing. This is a direction towards taking road safety seriously.
The "Negative Effects" of the Speed Limit
Also, I heard people try to reason the "negative effect" of a speed limit of 80 km/hour, especially on productivity. I have felt no difference. I arrive to work the same time, and I don't need to leave home earlier. Therefore I quote Trevor Townsend, "..it should be noted that enforcement of the current speed limit cannot lead to significantly increased travel times and traffic congestion..."
The only thing that could interfere with me arriving later is bumper to bumper traffic due to an accident on the highway. Most times it takes the police about two hours to move the wreckage on the highway. This is the true impact on productivity.
Picture Source: Courtesy the Guardian Newspaper.
Above: This accident (April, 2016) claimed the life of Teniesha Mahabirsingh, 21 years old, along the eastbound lane of the Beetham highway when she crashed her car after passing the NP service station. She was obviously driving beyond 80 km/hour because her car swerved, then flipped several times before landing on its hood. The papers stated that "traffic on both the east and westbound lanes slowed to a crawl".
Restoring Road Safety
As a matter of fact, the highways seem to be a lot safer since the speed gun "threats". I don't miss the reckless speeding and overtaking. Drivers seem to be a bit more careful on the roads now due to this enforcement. The enforcement is for those who don't care about the lives of others and the pain families go through losing a loved one, due to the sake of a driver not being mindful when driving or just hell bent on proving how fast his/her vehicle can go.
Here are some eye opening videos on how enforcing our speed limit could limit road fatalities and car accidents. Which by the way I believe is the main reason for the government resorting to such measures.
What are your views on the enforced speed limit? Leave a comment below.