April 25, 2023 -The Daily Herald -MARIGOT–Préfet Vincent Berton has described 2023 so far as “deadly” on the roads and has vowed to implement a road safety action plan in the latter half of this year, as part of revisiting last year’s road safety conference with the main players.
The public will be able to contribute to this action plan by sending in suggestions to an ideas box on the Préfecture’s website.
Road fatalities since the beginning of the year have now increased from three to four with the fatal accident on Rue de Hollande on Saturday morning, April 22.
Berton said evidence showed risky behaviour was the main cause of fatal accidents. “The 25- to 64-year-olds are most involved in the majority of road accidents, but with a significant number of young people aged between 18 and 24, often on two-wheelers.
“They are frequently exposed to major risk behaviour problems, associated with alcohol abuse, drug abuse, dangerous motorbike rodeos, failure to wear safety equipment (helmets), excessive speed, mobile telephone use, etc. In 2022, all the fatal accidents, five, involved two-wheelers with a significant presence of drugs and alcohol.”
He has recommended setting up a mobile prevention team and employing an addiction specialist at the hospital as part of the plan.
In the face of a seemingly deteriorating situation on the roads, the Gendarmerie has responded accordingly with more controls and more visibility since the beginning of the year.
“This should logically have been accompanied by a stabilisation of offences compared to 2022, but it has not been the case,” admitted Capitaine François Deneufgermain. “Our controls have increased by 44% but traffic offences have increased by 112% and serious offences leading to accidents by 100%.”
He said there have been 133 cases of persons driving without a licence since the beginning of the year, compared to 58 in the same period last year. He also noted the high failure rate for the driving test: 84 per cent in 2022. Préfet Berton surmised this is partly due to a lack of mastery of the French language.
The préfet has called for more visible road markings (already begun) and coherent road signage to encourage drivers to obey the Highway Code. He has also called for the business community and associations to get involved in the fight against road insecurity through prevention awareness and education.
More controls are expected on the roads with accompanying sanctions. Cell phone use while driving (increased by 136% since the beginning of the year), driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and speed will be checked, but is not limited to the aforementioned.
“It is not a question of issuing fines for the sake of issuing fines, but of identifying serious offences that cause accidents, such as not wearing a seatbelt or helmet,” Deneufgermain said. “We can live without a limb, but not when an exposed head without a helmet hits the concrete.”
The state is planning to set up a road safety policy with the help of the departmental observatory in conjunction with Guadeloupe. It aims to make users more responsible for themselves (self-protective behaviour) and for others (protecting others).
The préfet also announced St. Martin will have a car pound soon. A temporary pound will be
installed in Galisbay until a permanent one can be established.