This the deadliest road in T&T

Monday, April 8, 2019 - 07:00

The dead­liest stretch of road­way in this coun­try is a 700-me­tre por­tion of the M2 Ring Road in Debe, where at least sev­en peo­ple have been killed as a re­sult of five fa­tal road traf­fic ac­ci­dents be­tween 2013 and 2017.

Ac­cord­ing to da­ta com­piled by the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) Traf­fic and High­way Branch’s Road­way Sur­veil­lance Unit (RSU), while there were sev­en road deaths “con­cen­trat­ed on 708-me­tres of this road” be­tween 2013 to 2017, for the en­tire M2 Ring Road there were nine fa­tal ac­ci­dents which re­sult­ed in 13 deaths. The stretch has now be­come known as the “death strip” by res­i­dents of the area.

Sta­tis­tics tab­u­lat­ed by the RSU list the caus­es of those crash­es as “skid­ding and los­ing con­trol” and “fail­ure to keep to the prop­er traf­fic lane”. The speed lim­it for the road is 50 km/hr.

The M2 Ring Road is on­ly about four km long and more than 200 ac­ci­dents have tak­en place on it since 2013.

In an ef­fort to en­hance the safe­ty of the area, in 2017 the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port per­formed milling around the cor­ners to in­crease trac­tion, as peo­ple com­plained about their ve­hi­cles skid­ding of the road. Rum­ble strips and more sig­nage was al­so added in the area.

TTPS Road Safe­ty co-or­di­na­tor Brent Bat­son said the San Fer­nan­do Traf­fic Speed Team al­so in­creased pa­trols in the area to de­ter speed­ing.

Be­cause a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the ac­ci­dents in the area re­sult­ed in peo­ple smash­ing in­to con­crete elec­tric­i­ty poles and be­ing se­ri­ous­ly in­jured or killed, road safe­ty group Ar­rive Alive asked the T&T Elec­tric­i­ty Com­mis­sion (T&TEC) to con­sid­er adding padding to the poles or us­ing a dif­fer­ent ma­te­r­i­al.

In spite of these changes, how­ev­er, yet an­oth­er life was lost on the M2 Ring Road last April.

Adesh Ram­nath, 34, of Cedar Hill Vil­lage, Princes Town, died when his sil­ver Nis­san Wingroad crashed in­to a white Toy­ota mini­van.

The sec­ond dead­liest road in T&T, ac­cord­ing to the RSU sta­tis­tics, is the M1 Tasker Road. Ac­cord­ing to the sta­tis­tics, six peo­ple were killed as a re­sult of five fa­tal ac­ci­dents along the M1 Tasker Road be­tween 2013 and 2017.

“The fa­tal ac­ci­dents most­ly oc­curred on cor­ners,” the RSU sta­tis­tics stat­ed.

Last May, 59-year-old Azard Ali died in an ac­ci­dent along the M1 Track­er Road, Princes Town.

Main Roads, such as the M2 Ring Road and the M1 Tasker Road, have ac­count­ed for 123 fa­tal road traf­fic ac­ci­dents over the last two years. In com­par­i­son, the na­tion’s high­ways record­ed 73 fa­tal road traf­fic ac­ci­dents over that two year pe­ri­od and the Pri­or­i­ty Bus Route ac­count­ed for 14 fa­tal road traf­fic ac­ci­dents over the two years.

Ram­nath and Ali were among the 112 peo­ple who were killed in road traf­fic ac­ci­dents last year. That fig­ure was the low­est num­ber of road traf­fic deaths the coun­try has record­ed in a year since 1958.

The road fa­tal­i­ty fig­ure has not been able to dip be­low the 100 mark since then.

Un­for­tu­nate­ly, 2019 has so far seen a rise in the num­ber of road traf­fic deaths as com­pared to last year.

Sev­en peo­ple were killed dur­ing a four day pe­ri­od in Feb­ru­ary.

Around 12.30 am on Feb­ru­ary 14, 67-year-old Jes­si­ca Mar­tin, of St Lu­cien Road, Diego Mar­tin, was killed when the ve­hi­cle in which she was a pas­sen­ger in got in­to an ac­ci­dent.

On Feb­ru­ary 15, 60-year-old, Michael Hen­ry, a pen­sion­er, of Waller­field Road, Ari­ma, was killed when he was fa­tal­ly struck by a mo­tor ve­hi­cle while at­tempt­ing to cross the Churchill Roo­sevelt High­way.

On Feb­ru­ary 16, 26-year-old fire of­fi­cer Ker­win Dun­can Dwayne Dick, 29, De­on Bur­kette, 33, Rae Cipeo, 40, all died when the ve­hi­cle in which they were trav­el­ling slammed in­to a util­i­ty pole in the Long­denville dis­trict.

On Feb­ru­ary 17, 63-year-old Wayne Slater, of Mount St George, was killed af­ter he lost con­trol of the ve­hi­cle he was dri­ving and crashed in­to the con­crete me­di­an at the Auchenskeoch round­about in To­ba­go.

Over the last ten years, 1,648 peo­ple have been killed on the na­tion’s roads, ac­cord­ing to da­ta from the RSU.

The ma­jor­i­ty of those who died as a re­sult of road traf­fic ac­ci­dents over the last three years were males be­tween the age 25-34.

• Con­tin­ues on Page A7

T&T’s mo­tor ve­hi­cle his­to­ry

But where did it all be­gin?

A sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in this coun­try’s his­to­ry was re­cent­ly ob­served, as ex­act­ly 119 years ago the first car rolled in­to T&T. That car in ques­tion was a steam-pow­ered Lo­co­mo­bile Run­about and its own­ers, Messrs Gar­ner and Khun be­came im­me­di­ate celebri­ties.

Ten years lat­er, in 1910, more than 50 mo­tor ve­hi­cles were on the streets of T&T, in­clud­ing the first lor­ry which was im­port­ed in 1909 by Leo De­venish.

And then tragedy struck.

On Oc­to­ber 9, 1911, T&T record­ed its first death as a re­sult of a road traf­fic ac­ci­dent.

The de­ceased was William Lesli Nicol and he was killed on his 47th birth­day.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred near the then St Clair Tram Ter­mi­nus, which is now the site where the Gov­ern­ment is build­ing a ho­tel to re­place the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture.

At the time of the ac­ci­dent, Sir George Ruthven Le Hunte was the Gov­er­nor of T&T and it was his dri­ver, Cap­tain Bod­dam-Whetham, who killed Nicol and in­jured four oth­ers in that ac­ci­dent.

“The dead man was William Leslie Nicol who was the man­ag­er of the fa­mous Bo­nan­za Stores on Fred­er­ick Street. It is strange to note that the day of the ac­ci­dent, Oc­to­ber 9, was al­so Nicol’s birth­day. Nicol was a Scots­man who had come out to the is­land with his younger broth­er Alexan­der around 1890 and found em­ploy­ment as a clerk in the Bo­nan­za Stores in 1895,” his­to­ri­an An­ge­lo Bisses­sars­ingh wrote about the in­ci­dent.

“His fu­ner­al was one of great sor­row be­cause he was a well-liked fig­ure in the city. His body was borne from Greyfri­ars Kirk on Fred­er­ick Street to Lapey­rouse Ceme­tery where his broth­er had paid for a plot,” Bisses­sars­ingh wrote.

Alexan­der al­so erect­ed a mon­u­ment for William which states:

“Erect­ed by Alexan­der Nicol in mem­o­ry of his beloved broth­er, William Leslie Nicol, mer­chant, el­dest son of Charles and Ann H W Nicol, Port­soy Scot­land, who was killed in a mo­tor ac­ci­dent on his 47th birth­day 9th Oc­to­ber 1911. They loved him most who knew him best. They will be done.”

Nicol’s death, how­ev­er, was not in vain.

“Nicol did not die in vain even though Capt Whetham was nev­er charged. Gov­er­nor Sir George Le Hunte, whose dri­ver and car caused the col­li­sion, im­ple­ment­ed traf­fic laws in 1912 which con­sti­tut­ed the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles Act and which man­dat­ed the li­cens­ing of ve­hi­cles and dri­vers, in­spec­tion of the for­mer, and test­ing of the lat­ter. The Traf­fic Branch of the Trinidad Con­stab­u­lary was formed to ad­min­is­trate this func­tion un­til the for­ma­tion of the Li­cens­ing Di­vi­sion in the 1960s. Thus, Nicol can be seen as the un­for­tu­nate sac­ri­fice which cat­alyzed leg­isla­tive and pol­i­cy re­form.”

While in 1900 T&T on­ly had one car, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est sta­tis­tics there are now some 900,000 ve­hi­cles on the roads.