Editorial — 05 January 2016
Death trap

Party politics in Belize is a hell of a thing, as you know, and it affects our traffic and road safety. As far as we know, Ernesto Torres is the only Belizean who has any advanced training where the discipline of traffic is concerned. Because Torres has gotten himself publicly involved with electoral politics, the relevant authorities in Belize have refused to exploit his expertise.

Meanwhile, traffic in and around Belize City continues to deteriorate. Many drivers do not know the traffic rules, one reason being that corruption within the system enables many people to become drivers without being properly educated. The taxi drivers have become classic violators of the rules, especially at rush hours, and in their case the immigrants who abound in the taxi business have led the way with their daring and recklessness. Belizean taxi drivers have followed their lead, and the rest of us drivers sometimes feel pressure to participate in our new regime of traffic lawlessness.

The bus drivers, apparently because the size of their vehicles inflates their egos, do whatever it is they feel like doing anywhere in the population centers or on the roads, and they continue to race at high speeds from time to time. The “bus stop” at the corner of Regent Street West and East Canal is an area of pandemonium which will create headlines with armed violence between drivers any day now. Overall in Belize, the atmosphere where the driving of motor vehicles is concerned is a reckless one, and the road and driver recklessness increases on weekends and holidays, alcohol use making a significant contribution to that increased recklessness.

To top things off, the Police Department is lackadaisical in its reporting of accidents to the media. One reason there should be an urgency in police reports of traffic accidents is because this is the one thing that slows down drivers. News of a bad accident always has a cooling effect on our drivers’ rush to madness.

As we write this editorial very early Monday morning, we still are not sure of the details involving two violent accidents which took place within a matter of hours on the same dangerous curve just past Haulover Bridge when you travel from Belize City to the International Airport junction. In that four-mile stretch from the bridge to the junction, there are three bad curves, and the first two, between the bridge and the junction when you are travelling south to north, are very bad.

Very early Sunday morning, drivers moving from the old capital to the airport junction, saw a fairly small blue car almost buried inside the mangrove at the edge of the road as they navigated the east to west turn of the first bad curve past the Haulover Bridge. The car had been very badly damaged, probably “totaled.” The question was, where was the other vehicle, presumably larger, with which it had likely made head-on contact. Another question had to do with casualties. The radio stations in Belize City were not broadcasting any information on the accident, so traffic on this dangerous section of the Philip Goldson Highway (Mr. Torres insists there are no highway as such in the nation of Belize, only roads.) apparently continued on its merry way to and fro.

Well, within two or three hours of sunrise on Sunday morning, there was another accident at this exact same spot, and the second accident was much worse. We think that drivers would likely have been more cautious had they been aware of the serious accident a few hours before at that spot. We’re just saying.

The stretch of road between Belize City and the airport junction is a two-lane road which features drivers passing each other at high speed moving in opposite directions. The stretch of road is usually very busy, not only because of the airport, but because Ladyville and Lord’s Bank have been growing in population and activity for years, and when you mix in Vista del Mar, Los Lagos, and Burrell Boom and Maskall further up, you get an idea of what is sometimes a traffic frenzy. Drivers are not supposed to be passing each other when they are in the same lane, because they cannot properly account for drivers coming from the opposite direction, especially at those three dangerous curves between the Haulover Bridge and the airport junction. But they do it all the time, especially if there is heavy construction equipment or a slow driver ahead of them provoking impatience on their part.

The Government of Belize has been saying that they are about to build a four-lane highway to replace this death trap piece of road. The present administration does specialize, you and I know, in making grandiose promises which take a long time to be fulfilled. In the meantime, the relevant government authorities could assist in road safety by ensuring that the double yellow lines which warn drivers not to try to come out of their lane to pass people ahead of them, are always brightly painted. As of today, Monday, January 4, 2016, that is not the case.

We also suggest that the Government of Belize make an offer to Torres to serve as a traffic consultant. If GOB insists that he stop mouthing off about politics while he is under contract, the chances are he might so stop mouthing off, we think. It should be possible to make him an offer he will not refuse. We’re just saying. Incidentally, did you know Torres was once a candidate on a United Democratic Party (UDP) Belize City Council slate? Check stats.

Power to the people.

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