What Road Safety?

Recent overtures from the authorities here in Bali about how they aim to crack down on what amounts to a free-for-all on the roads appear to have fizzled out even before the measures were announced. The orchestra, far from making beautiful music, failed even to take the stage.

Even with police posts at intersections, blasé motorists remain emboldened enough to blatantly ignore the colours of traffic lights, demonstrating both their ignorance and their lack of respect for rules and the law as they dart through and zigzag oncoming vehicles.

Motorbike riders view pedestrian pavements as an extension of the roadway, and take them over wholesale when traffic is backed up. Is it any wonder that the footpaths are in tatters or that people from all over the world who come here to holiday cannot walk on them?

Two weeks ago – as reported by The Bali Times – the traffic police said they were embarking on a campaign to sweep the streets clean of reckless drivers, people who flout the law and behave as though they are on some kind of private racetrack.

Police also announced they would be launching an education programme so that members of the motoring public who apparently are unaware of the rules of the road would be made to understand them. (How, we wonder, did they manage to obtain their driving licences? The required written test includes a questionnaire on road rules and signs.)

They said – again with a flourish, at which many Indonesian institutions are past masters – that fines and jail terms would be applied to any miscreants, police promised.

This is all hubris. There is no clampdown. There is no attempt at it. And there is no sign that law and order will prevail on the frequently deadly streets and roads of Bali.

At a time when there are increasing numbers of vehicles in Bali, and the thoroughfares ever more chaotic and gridlocked, the authorities would do well to make more than a make-believe effort at control.

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2 Responses to “What Road Safety?”

  1. James Says:

    Bravo. Sadly I think you can tie the failure to provide any sort of competent traffic policing to the story on your front page about the lack of competent policing in Bali full stop. For most police the roads are only there to provide a cashflow for the officers, and traffic safely and enforcement are really irrelevant to that primary role.

    If anything the driving on Bali’s deathtrap roads has gotten much worse over the recent years. Cars are driven at crazy speeds on roads that are not up to it, drivers in broken vehicles that would be taken off the roads anywhere else in the world drive a meter behind the vehicle in front and swerve from lane to lane, often passing on the inside at great speed.

    And the police do absolutely nothing. They sit and watch as cars completely ignore traffic lights (assuming they are working, which they often are not because nobody changed the bulbs) and motorbikes swerve wildly into traffic without looking or pausing, and often as a result collide with frequently fatal results.

    Sadly I think it’s too late for almost anyone on the roads in Bali. The population here has no driving skills at all (and the police must bear the responsibility for this) but it has to start somewhere at least for future generations.

    I was told by someone that had studied the figures that, if you apply the same criteria, you are six times more likely to be seriously injured or die on the roads in Bali as in New South Wales.

    Isn’t it time that something was done?

  2. Colin Anderson Says:

    The driving skills, or lack of them, in Bali can be directly attributable not only to the lack of enforcement, but also to the lack of information. Has anyone ever seen a copy of the highway code? I have and even that is pathetically disinformative. It appears that the products of Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki etc. are not just for transport but also the basic tool for population control.

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