SUV uproots solar-powered traffic system
– $10M in damage since signals implemented in 2007
Just as the Public Works Ministry has embarked on a research programme to upgrade and modify the hybrid traffic signal system (utility and solar power) around the city, one of its solar-powered facilities was yesterday uprooted by an out-of-control sport utility vehicle (SUV) on Mandela Avenue, in the vicinity of the entrance to South Ruimveldt Gardens.
The female who was driving the Nissan Titan was in shock and only related that while heading east on Mandela Avenue “the vehicle pulled” and she did not really know what happened subsequently.
Statistics from the Public Works Ministry reveal that since the implementation of solar-powered traffic signals, some four years ago, there have been 73 “traffic light accidents” were recorded, amounting to almost $10M in damage.
For that period, millions of dollars were spent to refurbish the facilities after reckless road usage had taken its toll. Most of the offenders reportedly settled for restitution rather than being dragged before the court.
Terence O’Brien, Electrical Engineer, Public Works Ministry, related that one of the major challenges faced by the Ministry is that of accidents that result in the damage of traffic signals.
O’Brien noted that the abundant influx of vehicles annually, coupled with inexperienced drivers, has seen a significant increase in this regard.
In order to prevent the traffic lights being damaged, he said the Ministry has placed barriers in those areas that have shown a high incidence of such occurrences. He said so far that system ihas proven quite effective.
The Electrical Engineer noted that for this year, four traffic systems were damaged – at Eccles, East Bank Demerara; Camp Road and Carifesta Avenue; Ogle, East Coast Demerara and D’urban and Camp Street, Werk-en-Rust.
According to the Amendment of Section 101 of the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, “anyone who unlawfully and maliciously commits any damage, injury or spoil, road structure, bridge, walkway, traffic light installation, drainage structure, any movable or immovable property, either public or private nature shall be liable to a fine of not less than $30,000 nor more than $50,000 and imprisonment for ten months and bear the cost of the damage, injury or spoil to the property”.
O’Brien said that the Act is greatly assisting with persons paying restitution; however, many are repaying slowly rather than being taken to court for not complying.
Adding that the five C’s of driving are not being observed, he said that there is clearly greater need for an intensive public relations programme, since drivers are unaware of many pertinent things on the roadway, particularly road signs and traffic signals.
Citing an example, O’Brien pointed out that whenever drivers notice the flashing amber and red signals, they are of the belief that the lights are damaged and malfunctioning, however, the flashing amber light means to slow down, and if the road is clear proceed with caution, and the flashing red means stop completely, and if the road is clear proceed with caution.