On the afternoon of Friday 30th August I found myself in the heart of the scene of a most bizarre road accident. The driver of a grey Toyota Yaris was thrown from the vehicle as it flipped multiple times, landing in the middle of a freshly ploughed plot of fertile agricultural land alongside the Sir George Walter Highway. Needless to say, I rushed to the aid of the motorist, somehow taking charge of the scene until the arrival of personnel from the Emergency Medical Services.
As I coved the young lady with an umbrella from the head of the post mid-day sun, I felt immense concern, thinking of her friends and particularly family members far away who would get the news about this strange accident. – She is a foreigner, a student at The American University of Antigua. She had no visible signs of injury and I felt as though I just wanted all to know that she would be quite fine.
Upon reflection, I was concerned about what had just happened and I may have gotten an A+ for compassion, but unfortunately I had absolutely no further capacity then to help in the situation. Upon the arrival of the Emergency Medical Services I left the scene. The following morning, under the front page photo and caption of a local News Paper, it was reported that the student identified only as “Gretel”, refused medical treatment from the Emergency Medical Services and was escorted off the scene by lawmen, who insisted that she goes to the hospital.
As it stands, one could easily say that no matter how deeply I felt about the situation, there is now nothing more I can or need to do for that young lady. Well, if not for her, I feel a certain compulsion to encourage drivers to exercise greater care when driving. I would particularly like to appeal to young students who may be thinking that navigating the roadways of Antigua is far from a challenge. I awaken the phenomenal capacity in myself to intervene and remind all motorist that even when you think you know the road, there will always be surprises, so be on the alert.
Research has shown that over one million people are killed in road accidents worldwide every year. Many of these victims are reported to be bystanders or pedestrians. It is very important to note that no matter where one might be in the world, wearing a seat belt is critical. – Drivers, please protect yourselves and buckle-up at all times both here in Antigua and while abroad.
It is equally important to understand the rules of the road everywhere. Please keep the following road-safety and security factors in mind: potential hazards and dangerous road conditions such as bad weather, difficult terrain, road markings and signs to name a few. Drivers must also consider local laws and driving culture such as speed limits, driving age, aggressive driving, prohibition of mobile phone usage (presently there is no real clear legislation on this in Antigua and Barbuda), and, among other practices, the flashing of lights which can sometimes be very confusing.
Drivers today have more distractions than ever, or so it seems. In some countries, laws keep trying to make the roads safer by making texting while driving illegal and many states require cell phone calls to use a hands free device. Many of the newer vehicles now have buttons on the steering wheel that allow the driver to change radio stations and adjust the volume without removing their hands from the wheel. I recently discovered that built in Global Positioning Systems (GPS) cannot be programmed while the vehicle is in motion. Furthermore, believe it or not, air bags from multiple points in a vehicle are becoming more of the standard. Unfortunately, all these measures may be rendered useless if one is not level-headed and wise while behind the steering wheel of a vehicle in motion.
Join the officers, members and affiliates of the Christian Ministries Center, St. John’s, Antigua, through the month of September in the call for a safer society with fewer impacts from road deaths and injuries in general, but particularly for pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and our children. This is intended to be phase 1 of a road-safety project piloted by the church envisioned to be in partnership with the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board to make the country one of the top road-safety nations in the region.