As a recent visitor “Trini” expat, to the beautiful isle of my birth, I relished and delighted in the utopia of tropical warmth, bounteous every greens in flora and fauna, the tempting warm soothing beaches, the varieties of cuisine so tasteful and succulent, the wonders of new enterprise, in the rich architecture in commercial buildings and new  residential  designs and the splendor of culture, colorful in peopling of every creed and race… and  I experienced the lunacy of driving in Trinidad and Tobago.

The body count of road fatalities and the incidents of mindless, savage, traffic accidents are horrific and shocking.  I quickly came to my senses as I weighed in on my options.   If choices were presented to reside in Trinidad or continue living as an American citizen, in Maryland, USA,  I would,  in the blink of an eye, choose the latter.

My conclusion …. No Way!!. could I live in a society, that allows drivers to rampantly kill, and there not be quick and responsive justice.. I have grown accustomed to a civilized society where rules are mandated and driver education and awareness are stringently enforced for the safety and security of all road travelers.

In the States, numerous motor vehicle incidents and accidents occur.  There are horrible deaths from vehicular tragedies.  There are unfortunate incidents  that rank under the titles “road rage” “over policing” “vehicular manslaughter”.  But arbitrary and indiscriminate endangerment of the public on the roadways, highways, and city provenances are just not as out of control, as it seems to be on the roads of  Trinidad and Tobago.

Trinidad is 143 km (89 mi) from North to South and 61 km (38 mi) from East to West. Tobago lies 31 km (19 mi) northeast of Trinidad and has a length of 42 km (26 mi) Northeast to Southwest, and an average width of 12 km (7.5 mi) Northwest to Southeast. Sixteen small islands are found off the coasts. about Trinidad and TobagoBy third world standards, Trinidad is among the smaller islands.  Travel between local towns by car is within an average of a 5 mile radius.  One could travel from North to South, barring traffic, at  45 miles per hour, in less than two hours.

The ordeal of a day in traffic between Diego Martin North to Aranguez, approximately 7 miles at 3p on a Friday afternoon, was both my traffic in Trinidad hell-baptism by fire, and my personal epiphany.  I knew that after almost 3 1/2 hours, of stop and go, around the Lady Young Road shortcut, with two lane driving becoming road tests in driver maneuvers at passing and swerving, creating four lanes using the  roads’ outskirts and inside lanes as thoroughfare,   and dodging the disaster of an oncoming vehicle overtaking with the potential impact of a headon crash, before intercepting the regular traffic to regain control;  that the craft of driving in Trinidad was not a feat that I was capable of handling.

The headline news on the daily newspapers have been plagued with fatalities as though this is the common norm.  “Road Carnage”, the headline for 6 road deaths in less than 6 hours over the first week end of November 2013.

The carnage began at 1 a.m. yesterday with the death of 21-year-old Andrew Edwards in Guapo.According to reports, Edward was driving his vehicle, PBU 671, in an easterly direction along Southern Main Road, Guapo, when he was struck head-on by an oncoming vehicle near a sawmill. Ten minutes later, the first of two double road fatalities was recorded.According to police reports, around 1.10 a.m., William was driving his Mazda, PBS 5694, west along Western Main Road when he was given a “bad drive” near International School in Westmoorings.William lost control of his car, which struck a Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) pipeline, flipped and plunged into the Diego Martin river.The car landed upside-down in the swollen river.The cousins were trapped inside.

Less than an hour after the death of the cousins, another road fatality was recorded, this time in Central Trinidad.According to reports, around 2 a.m., Sookhan, of Manahambre Road, Princes Town, was struck by a vehicle on the southbound carriage-way in the vicinity of Chaguanas.Sookhan was standing at the roadside after he exited his vehicle which was in the centre highway median after being involved in an accident.Anoop Gajadhar, who was a passenger in Sookhan’s car, said he (Sookhan) had just gotten off the phone with his mother.Sookhan called to tell his mother he was involved in an accident but was safe.He was standing at the roadside when he was struck by a black van, The van did not stop.Sookhan died at the scene.

The last of yesterday’s four fatal accidents occurred around 6.20 a.m.Dead are Amit Sooknanan, 24, and Jamie Stockin, 26.Alvin Rennie sustained two broken legs in the accident.The crash occurred along the Churchill Roosevelt Highway between the Maritime Roundabout overpass and the Suzuki showroom in Barataria.According to reports, Rennie parked his Toyota Hilux on the shoulder of the highway and was standing outside when tragedy struck.A gold-coloured Nissan Cefiro, belonging to Stockin but driven by Sooknanan, struck the rear of Rennie’s van.The van moved forward as a result of the impact and Rennie was struck. The Cefiro ended its collision course in a ditch.Sooknanan and Stockin died at the scene as a result of their injuries.Road CarnageIn a tragedy that could have been avoided, less than a  week  later on November 12 2013,   a mother is killed because improperly placed and  unsecured steel rods impales her as the rods roll off  a moving truck and crashes through the windshield into her  private vehicle. FLYING-STEEL-KILLS-WOMAN-

Road fatalities on the roads of Trinidad and Tobago have been inexcusably too much, too often and too devastating to family, friends and loved ones.  The country’s ‘Arrive Alive’ campaign needs aggressive and vigilant policing.  In a speech given by Sharon Inglefield, President of Arrive Alive, she presents these frightening statistics:

In Trinidad &Tobago (from 2007-2011) there were 173,000 reported road traffic collisions. This equates to 34,600 collisions per annum with as many as 200 fatalities. Over 11,000 persons were reported injured. Persons aged 15 yrs – 35 yrs accounted for 45% of the fatalities. 83% of which are young males! And 43% pedestrians! Every 16.8 minutes a collision occurs on our nation’s roads! Every hour spent on our roads means there is a 25% chance of a collision and therefore a 25% chance of serious injury or fatality. For 2012 – 163 lives have been lost on our roadways – a 3% increase over last year (159 lives lost). Young people you are most vulnerable! Campaign Slogan Arrive Alive Trinidad and Tobago

Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago Arrive Alive!!!  The death tolls are climbing and it requires urgency and immediacy to take the actions to Care and Respect our lives and those of all citizens of our cherished land
The government leaders, policy makers, shareholders of Trinidad and Tobago must  be accountable to society.   Revenue streams for our big dollar intake, Tourism,  will be further diminished and corroded if our nation does not actively and vigorously impose strict consequences  and enforce rigid law  policies.

A Driver’s license is not a permit to kill.  It is a responsibility to uphold civic duty and respect for everyone we share our roadways, our highways, our byways and our pathways with.

Trinidad and Tobago….. is this the pride and joy we also want to celebrate for world acclaim ??… The nation where Road Kill has become a national sport..?

With all the newest model cars, with more multiple car families, with a growing population of under 30 year olds,  we continue to have too much to revel in and spread joy.  For every one who loses a family member due to these senseless barbaric and inhumane road tragedies, we owe them not just our sympathies and comforting words, we owe them a lifetime debt which we can never repay.  We could never bring their loved ones back:  Gone too soon…!!!