Honiara : 18 March 2017
Letter to the Editor, Island Sun and Solomon Star Newspapers.
The latest statistics of traffic accidents released to the media by Inspector Brian Surimalefo of the RSIPF’s Traffic Branch, are quite shocking to read.
Inspector Surimalefo revealed that there were more than 300 road traffic accidents in 2016 causing injury to a hundred-plus victims and 5 accident fatalities.
In the first three months of this year, Inspector Surimalefo said the police had attended the scene of close to 50 road accidents.
I made a quick comparison of vehicular accident statistics on the roads of Western Australia during 2016 where road distances, vehicular traffic and population figures are, of course, very much higher than in Honiara.
I had to conclude after studying those statistics and given the relatively shorter distances locally in terms of road miles, including feeder roads, that the statistics given by Inspector Surimalefo are alarming.
Almost very traffic accident was related to alcohol and it was obvious that drivers continue to disobey police orders, Inspector Surimalefo stressed in his media statement.
The Inspector ended his report by saying, “the increasing numbers of traffic accident is a grave concern that requires collaborative efforts between drivers, other stakeholder and the police to address.”
The RSIPF has already introduced random breath testing procedures and several motorists were arrested but await their appearances before the courts, I am led to believe.
It will be for the courts to impose sentences on those found guilty of drunk driving but in view of the seriousness of the spate of road accidents and the seemingly disregard of the law by those who persist in drunk driving, I would hope that effective, deterrent sentences will be brought down.
In countries in which I had to previously enforce the road traffic laws and where there was equally a high prevalence of alcohol-impaired driving, the sentences imposed on offenders included, fines, license suspensions or removal, jail sentences and mix of jail time and community service.
Apart from retribution by way of deterrent sentencing of guilty offenders, various forms of rehabilitation have been tried but such programmes have generally been subject to adequate finance and supervision methods and not been wholly successful.
Of late and in some select countries an alcohol ignition interlock device has been authorised by law to be fitted to a vehicle of a person convicted of drunk driving.
This kind of device is fitted to the vehicle ignition and the vehicle will not start unless the driver blows into the interlock and has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below a re-set low limit, often .O2 BAC.
It may be impracticable to consider such a step in the Solomon Islands at the present time.
Road traffic crashes constitute a considerable public health burden and represent the eighth leading cause of death and tenth leading cause of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) globally. However, very little is known about the extent, causes and impact of crashes in the Solomon Islands as far as I know, but from the statistics revealed by Inspector Surimalefo one might hazard a guess that the data could be very revealing.