By Chris Elliott……..
Like most expats living in North Cyprus I am sometimes dumbfounded at the lack of spatial awareness and anticipation exercised by local drivers on the roads and more so when they are going into the dream state whilst using their mobile phones when driving.
Am I overstating the case, I think you will agree I am not when you have watched the horrendous UK video below showing what can happen when drivers act in such a stupid and dangerous manner.
This is not just my opinion and I am sure that all people living here think the same when they see a road accident but do they then think about how they drive and try to improve their quality of driving.
John Snowby a retired UK policeman living in the TRNC who after many years of service of dealing with major road traffic accidents in the UK has the following to say.
“I was a serving officer in the UK police for 30 years and as you would expect have at one stage or another worked in the CİD, General police duties and latterly Traffic. I was one of three senior officers designated as an SIO…Senior Investigating Officer who were tasked with an overseeing role for all serious accidents including fatal and serious injury accidents. Needless to say I missed many Christmas and New year celebrations.
I was responsible and accountable for the road policing of the north division in the UK which included firearms, dog section, motorcycle section and of course a fleet of traffic cars … or jam sandwiches as they were affectionately called by the public. I’m not sure affection is the right word!!…But you get my drift.
The incidents I dealt with had a significant community impact, on a number of occasions there were issues of religion which could come into conflict with the law, policy and process. I have to add we always received excellent support and patience whenever such issues arose.
Each accident was analysed in-depth, the scene was as far as we were concerned a crime scene until otherwise proven. Roads were closed and diversions put in place. All drivers were subject to breath and/or blood tests for drugs and/or alcohol, driver qualifications vehicle licences etc. were all scrutinised. Vehicle condition was important…brakes would be tested..steering checked tyres and pressures…one incident the rear wheel assembly of the offending vehicle became detached and collided with a vehicle on the other side of the road…the wheel assembly was sent to the manufacturer for examination… in some cases vehicles were stripped down and components examined…any concerns in connection with the lights the bulb would be sent to specialists for analysis….the road surface, weather conditions, vehicle traffic at the time, and any other factors we considered had a part to play…eg Mobile phones were seized…a first account was taken from the drivers where practicable…it’s usually the best…. An appeal for witnesses followed.
I am aware of the recent fatal accident on the mountain road in the TRNC and I will reserve my judgement until all the facts are known. Of course it was a very sad day for many families and the nation.
I cannot provide a valid opinion on how the accident was dealt with as I would always ask, were you there, did you see it? Whist I understand the outrage and comments made by many, hearsay is fraught with danger. I’m sure when the file is drawn together and an analysis is made there will be a fair judgement by experienced officers and it may offer some closure on a truly horrific incident.
One recommendation I would make is that a strategic group is formed consisting of individuals who can make a difference and is able to hold the respective authority to account. The group should be led by the police who will produce a report detailing the findings against terms of reference drawn together by the group. Every three months all serious and fatal accidents should be examined by the group. Any issues that fall to the respective bodies must be subject of an action plan which is monitored and evaluated against the agreed output/outcomes. Such measures should be publicised and community feedback via the media given.
Driving in the TRNC.
I have lived here for almost three years now and have witnessed many examples of poor driving, road conditions and a degree of complacency which could be considered as almost cultural. Whose fault are the accidents?
From my experience, in the majority of the cases it is driver error. Whether this is speeding, use of the mobile telephone, undertaking, (I attended the scene of an accident where the driver undertook on a motorway using the hard shoulder, what he didn’t see was a parked lorry, his friend died on impact). Poor judgement in overtaking and drink/drug driving. (A driver under the influence of alcohol lost control near a bus stop, a fence post pierced the windscreen and continued into his mouth. )
I make mention of the word cultural…everyone has at some time driven too fast for the conditions and the speed limit. We have all attempted to make an overtake and thought better of it.
Mobile phone use! I guarantee you will see many people using their phones oblivious to the road conditions and other vehicles.
Children standing up in the front seat of the car…a child standing on the front of a scooter whilst his/her dad steers. Such incidents are common and it becomes acceptable.
Overtaking is a national sport! is it ego? It can’t be to save time..the island is too small.
Road conditions. Yes they can be improved, that said we should drive within the limits set by those conditions…eg heavy rain..you slow down…..
We are all guilty in some respects and you become subsumed into the culture of driving…I tell my family drive like the residents… Is this right…you decide.