ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 28

Self discipline could be a major deterrent to road accidents - SSP Peiris

By Harry Jayachandra

There is a sign board on the Rajagiriya Road with a child smiling. The message though is very sombre. 'Do not drink and drive'. Lower down it adds that the child in the picture was killed by a drunken driver. Unfortunately drinking is not the only cause of such fatal accidents.

Not a day goes by where one does not hear or read about an accident that has claimed a life. Sri Lanka is second only to perhaps India with regard to motorists who think that roads are exclusive to them. The advent of hand phones has merely given motorists yet another distraction. How many drivers and/or riders pay attention to pedestrian crossings? The situation has deteriorated to the extent where the average driver would take a peak to see if there is a policeman. And if there is not he or she would even run the red light! Policemen are not omnipresent and there are not enough to cover every square inch of this so called ' Pearl of the Indian Ocean. In essence the laws need to be looked at closely. But is that all that can be done?

ST-1 spoke to Director of Traffic Administration and Road Safety SSP Lucky Peiris to get his views. Peiris first addressed the issue of corruption. He said: "People always say The Police are corrupt. First of all these men come from a corrupt society. If you are stopped for violating a road rule and policeman in question asks for a bribe, why do you want to pay it? Just say 'take me to court'. It is these people who later turn around and say that all police are corrupt. Secondly it is only a very few on the force who will take a bribe. And a bribe has to be given before it is taken. So obviously the giver is also corrupt. And finally to label every one on the force as 'corrupt' is wrong."

Peiris added that one way to curb fatal accidents was to ensure that motor cycles were only sold to people who had valid riding license. "At the moment even a 15 year old can buy one. This has to change. Just because you take the motor cycle out of the shop and ride a few metres, does not mean that you are a competent rider. Right now there is no law regulating bikes. Such a law is the need of the hour. If you take fatal accidents, the majority involve motor cyclists," said Peiris.

He added: "The law with regard to fatal accidents also needs to be revised. It has to become much stricter. Thus acting as deterrent. The salary of policemen also needs to be looked at. Remember that unlike the average road user these guys have to be out on the road whether it is sunny or raining. Modern technology also has a role to play. CCTV camera's should be installed at every junction. This in turn can help the police. But the best way is if all road users observed the rules and were much more safety oriented than they are now. This will benefit each road user in particular and the public overall," said Peiris in conclusion.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.