by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- As of September 2019, there have been 1,800 accidents recorded for the year
- Hit-and-run accidents have steadily risen
- Loss of income at home due to injuries sustained must also be included
Although there are no official statistics quantifying the economic burden of road traffic accidents on Grenada’s health sector, Senior Medical Officer, Dr Sonia Nixon, said it is putting an additional strain on the resources of the hospital and the state. She said this problem is not unique to Grenada but is cause for concern on a global scale. She quoted statistics provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that 1.24 million people die annually on the world’s roads, with 20–50 million sustaining non-fatal injuries.
Dr Nixon agrees the actual cost for Grenada cannot be easily quantified since it goes way beyond hospital care. She said the additional cost implications outside of receiving emergency healthcare is seldom taken into consideration. “I think it is more than just the cost for hospital care. Is it just Plaster of Paris, or is it 6 hours in the theatre?”
Dr Nixon said the loss of income at home due to injuries sustained from road accidents must also be a factor included in the discussion. “Let’s just imagine for example, you had a really bad accident where you became incapacitated at age 45 where you are the owner of your business. Where you employ 10 people and you have lost the ability to work. Think of what it will cost for long term homecare, but you are not earning. Think about your incapacity to deliver to the national coffers or National Insurance Scheme because you are expected to work for the next 15 years and contribute, but instead, you are no longer contributing but removing.”
Dr Nixon encourages drivers to become safe and responsible drivers on the nation’s roads, which involves knowing your highway code. “Are we prepared to be good drivers, do we understand the [highway code]? So, there are other things that are not necessarily directly related to what it costs to health, but what is costs to the entire country and the entire health system. We really want to encourage people to know your [highway code], to not drive under the influence. We are asking that people become responsible drivers by taking precautions.”
The Traffic Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) continues to see steady increases in road traffic accidents. Since speeding is one of the main causes of accidents, Sergeant Ryan Smith — with responsibility for accident investigation — encourages drivers to be aware of the speed limit, and in the event that they are adhering to the speed limit, other factors must be taken into consideration with regards to either the width of the road, obstruction or road conditions.
As of September 2019, there have been 1,800 accidents recorded for the year, including serious and fatal accidents. Figures are still being collected for October.
Sergeant Smith pointed out that hit-and-run accidents have steadily risen. “The resources that we have been employing is stricter enforcement in terms of motorcycle patrols, mobile patrols, speed checks and so on in different areas in what we refer to as accident-prone areas, so we have officers out there. We are more in tune with the causes of accidents and where they occur… what we are seeing is a number of hit-and-run accidents, in that I mean people are getting involved in an accident and are not stopping.”
The Road Traffic Act clearly outlines criminal penalties that will apply to anyone in contravention. According to the act, any person who contravenes or fails to comply with this section commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $2,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.
Section 75 (1) of the Road Traffic Act section 75 (1), outlines the duty of a driver in case of an accident. It states a person riding, driving or in charge of any vehicle of any description shall, if, owing to the presence of the vehicle on a road, an accident occurs whereby personal injury is caused to any person or damage is caused to any vehicle
(a) immediately stop; and
(b) if required to do so by any person having reasonable grounds for so requiring, give
(i) his or her name and address
(ii) the name and address of the owner of the vehicle
(iii) the registration number of the vehicle
(iv) the name of the insurance company with which the vehicle is insured
(v) the names of all persons in the vehicle at the time of the accident
(c) report the accident at a police station as soon as reasonably practicable but before the expiration of a period of 24 hours after its occurrence.