Saturday, June 15, 2013

Recent fatal accidents in Papua New Guinea are lessons to learn


I have been prompted to write this article by a tragic vehicle accident that caused the loss of many of my country men and women. It was one of the nasty accidents in the recent history on Papua New Guinea.
In Mt Hagen General Hospital

The road safety threats created by driver are; driver poor behavior (reckless, too much speed, mobile phone use while driving), driver lack of competence (skills and knowledge), driver fatigue, driver mental stress, driver poor vision, and drugs and alcohol etc.

A fatal accident, on the 4th April, in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands region has claimed 25 lives-eighteen men, six women and a five-year old girl were killed in the crash. It is believed to be one of the worst accidents in PNG’s recent history.

The first one was in Mahakam Highway in Morobe Province in 2010, which claimed 48 lives including children. Only a female survived. This accident, involved families and relatives of one of their tribesman from Baiyer Lumusa district in Western Highlands Province who died in Port Moresby whose body was to return through Kagamuga Airport in Mt Hagen.
They were travelling on a 25 seater coaster bus to the airport to pick up the corpse of the deceased when the tragic incident happened on the road between Mt Hagen and Bayer Lumusa electorate.

The bus went off the road towards a cliff into a deep valley costing the 25 lives. One of them died in Mt Hagen General Hospital while 24 were pronounced death at the scene. All of them were families from the same village with their ward councillor with his two young daughters. The cause of the accident is not known at this time.
Here are few things regarding defensive driving. The drivers must know the causes and how to avoid accidents. Before they are issued with driving licences they have to go through theoretical and practical tests by proper traffic agencies around the country. Accidents can never happen if proper safety rules/measures are taken all the time.

All road accidents are caused by threats created by (in order of importance):
• The driver
• The other road users
• The roads and the environment
• The transport operation
• The vehicle and its load/passengers

The drivers must adjust their driving with regard to roads and the environment condition, transport operation and very careful when passing though villages, terrain or the road condition they are driving. The vehicle check has to be done before, during and after driving because unidentified minor problems can lead to big accidents costing lives.

Be aware of what is happening around the vehicle you are driving, so that you are able to recognize possible dangers and avoid accidents by anticipating them (minimum of 6 seconds ahead). In doing this it will provide sufficient time to react to the actions of other road users, pedestrians or to bad road conditions.

It’s very common practice for drivers to use mobile phone during driving. In defensive driving, using of mobile phone during driving is really unsafe because it delays 6 second to your reaction.

Other disgusting things are safety seat belts and speed limit compliance. I’m sure there are certain speed limits for certain roads and road conditions are required. For example, project areas in mining or construction they have 20 KPH inside camps and work areas whereas 40 KPH in the free roads in the project areas. And the speed limits are monitored through global positioning system (GPS) by some companies.

I think some rules and guidelines are issued to the drivers when license are issued from the traffic officers. And these rules are there to be followed by drivers. However, it seems that so many people are issued with licenses on bribery and corrupts practices. It is ridiculous indeed.

Police and law enforcing agencies must make sure traffic rules are followed and those who are issuing and obtaining driving licenses through corruption and bribery are brought to justice.

Driving is not a game!

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