By Carlena Knight
The head of the traffic department is warning road users to adhere to the laws that govern traffic on the roads of Antigua and Barbuda.
Acting Superintendent of Police, Rodney Ellis, was specifically addressing drivers who are removing roadblocks installed to regulate traffic on Friars Hill Road and Sir George Walter Highway, two major roads which are currently being upgraded as part of the road rehabilitation project.
“The major part of it is on Friars Hill road presently. They are almost to the completion of that road but what we are seeing happening is when we place those roadblocks to prevent persons from going in that direction, persons are removing them, and that is an offence,” Ellis said.
“Sometimes, they don’t even remove them; they knock them down with their vehicles and once they are caught, they will be dealt with. I know for a fact that persons have been ticketed when they are caught for that, but we might have to take it a step further and take them to the court on an arrest.”
He is also cautioning drivers who are racing illegally on the two major roadways. Violators apprehended by the police and, according to Ellis, will be charged with dangerous driving which could result in their licences being suspended.
At least five persons, he said, have had their licences suspended because of this.
“I received reports on several occasions that there is a lot of speeding on Sir George Walter Highway with regards to motorcycles. Those motorcycles they have been tampered with, the way that they were built which is also an offence, because when you go to Transport Board and the vehicles are inspected that’s how they are supposed to remain,” he explained.
“Also, up at the airport, close to the LIAT hangar, I understand there is also being used as a racetrack. We are looking into that too. If they are caught, I can let you know that that is dangerous driving.
“Any racing on any public road in Antigua and Barbuda is an offence. We have two racetracks, one at North Sound and one at John I; if you need to race, use those facilities. Once you get charged with dangerous driving, we are going to recommend that your licence be suspended.”
Because of the rise in these dangerous activities, Ellis said there will be an increase in police patrols.
Addressing the issue of double parking in St John’s, the traffic department head is encouraging road users to use the few private parking lots in the city, noting that double parking could cause serious issues for emergency vehicles as well.
“We have over 40,000 vehicles registered and when St John’s was developed, they were not catering for that amount of vehicles, but the problem that we are facing is that persons who are going into St John’s, they may want to go to the bank [and] they want to park right in front of the bank. Those are ticketable offences; you are creating problems for other road users.
“You would have senior citizens, persons with disabilities that are coming into St John’s and to add to that too, you might be doing that and there is an emergency in the city where the firetruck has to get through, or the ambulance, you are creating problems. That couple of seconds could cost a life,” the acting superintendent said.
He also advised pedestrians to “use the sidewalks” instead of drifting into the road and to be more attentive instead of being on their handheld devices.
Meanwhile, Ellis commended road users generally because the number of reported collisions for the January to June 2020 period has lessened compared to the same time last year.
There were 941 minor collisions recorded in 2020 thus far, compared to 1,236 incidents for the corresponding period in 2019.
He is however encouraging drivers in the over 24 age group to be more vigilant as, according to him, the numbers show this age range is involved in more collisions than youths.