What can be done?

Dear Editor,

  I believe that I would not be far off the mark if I stated that the word ignorance is part of the definition of the cause of arrogance. When I was in my pre-teens, my father explained to me that people who use plenty of  curse words during a conversation are ignorant, and their vocabulary is very poor. So that means that they are stupid. He told me that I should never refer to a human being as being stupid. Everybody is smart in their own way. The other thing he told me concerning a limited vocabulary, is that these people are usually the first ones to get mad during a conversation, because when they find themselves cornered (in a conversation) for lack of words, they revert to anger as a form of defence, and in so doing they will also change the topic.

  Where am I going with this?  It seems as if it has become a monthly occurrence in which some young persons are killed as a consequence of a traffic accident while riding on a motorbike. And it also seems that everyone is ready to accept that the rider of the motorbike is the cause of the accident because of the brazen and reckless behaviour that so many of those riders displayed and continue to display in traffic. Because of my experience, I know what is wrong and what is correct behaviour in traffic, and there is not one day on which I am driving on the streets of Sint Maarten/St. Martin that I do not encounter reckless behaviour in traffic by  motorbike riders. Whether they are correctly dressed, leisurely dressed, only wearing a pair of trousers or shorts, with or without  helmet, the reckless behaviour on motorbikes is constantly displayed.

  So, what does ignorance and arrogance have to do with what I am writing? Simple, again because of my experience I can still recognize those who do not have a driver’s licence or permit to ride a motorbike. I do not think it would be farfetched to assume that if one does not have a licence or a permit to ride a motorbike, one does not know sufficient of the traffic rules, is ignorant of the traffic rules, and in so doing displays arrogance towards other drivers who are complying with the traffic rules as much as they can. Too many motorbike riders believe that cars have to pull over for them while they are driving in the middle of, or between the traffic in both directions. They do not care to find out why there is a traffic jam, they manoeuvre carelessly through the traffic with total disregard for what is happening.

  What is the result of this? As a consequence of this kind of behaviour, drivers get irritated, and after a while are not ready to cooperate with the motorbike riders, which leads to hostility and eventually road rage. This is increasing because of the constant increase in the number of cars on the road. (By the way, I was told that government is not ready to attend to this because of who is involved in importing cars. I do not have these facts, so I will not go there.) This causes more traffic jams.

  I am sure if this letter is published, by now your readers will want to know how is it that I didn’t  mention “hopping”. In our days, some tried it but it did not last long. Even though we were aware that the government could have done more for us, and also different, my colleagues from then did not complain, we complied. Our superiors, who are still with us, know about the petitions coming from politicians individually (during election time) asking for us to be more lenient. People saw that cap from a distance and did what was required of them, but we had great Carnival with a limited number of fights.

  Now this! As I was driving on Wellington Road, I noticed that a car was as it were trying to pass the one in front of it, even though I was approaching from the opposite direction. As we got closer, I noticed that the driver of the slow-moving car was paying more attention to the phone in his hand than to the traffic. I shouted, “Get off the phone!” I got a resounding F.U. as response. The lady driving in the back of him blew her horn loudly. She recognized me and said, “Boet him, he is blocking the traffic since we drive in this road.” This has become the norm with drivers. They put the phone on speaker, hold the phone in one hand and are more into the conversation than what is happening in traffic.

  Several years ago, when I noticed the trend, I wrote to you that the only person who could claim that he does not use the phone while driving is the governor, because he has a permanent chauffeur. Too many cars, a very badly organized public transportation, and no control on the drivers of heavy equipment on the roads of Sint Maarten.

Russell A. Simmons