Call for cable barriers to be fixed after woman killed in cross-median crash in Freeport

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Accident survivor Yousuf Hosein at Shoppes of Maraval advocating for cable barriers to be installed and repaired along highways. – Photo courtesy Yousuf Hosein

A 55-year-old woman died on Saturday morning after she was involved in a head-on collision along the Solomon Hochoy Highway, near Freeport.

Police reported that at about 2.10 am Judith Farrell-David was driving south along the highway in a black Nissan Sylphy approximately 300 meters before the Freeport Flyover, when a black Toyota Hilux crossed the median and slammed into Farrell-David’s car.

The insurance agent of Union Hall, San Fernando then crashed into a light pole. She died on the scene.

The driver of the Hilux and a 50-year-old passenger in her car survived and were taken to hospital for treatment.

This is the second woman killed this week in a vehicular accident after a crossed the median collision.

On Monday, Zobida Mohammed, 60, of Gran Couva, Central Trinidad, died after from injuries in an accident a day earlier.

Mohammed was one of three passengers in a Nissan Tiida travelling along the south-bound lane of the Solomon Hochoy Highway when at around 12.20 pm near the Harmony Hall overpass, in Gasparillo, the car veered off the road, crossed the grass median and collided with a van heading north.

The road fatality for the year is now 16, three less than last year.

The incidents have triggered have renewed the lobby by 45-year-old phlebotomist Yousuf Hosein for cable barriers to be installed or repaired along the highways to protect people.

He told Sunday Newsday in 2012 he was heading north on the Solomon Hochoy highway, returning home from work in San Fernando, when a truck from the south bound lane crossed the median and landed on his car. His right arm was fractured, his legs and head were injured, and he spent two weeks in the hospital recovering.

Since then, he has been calling on the government to fix and repair cable barriers on the highway.

“The reason why I am making this call is to prevent the loss of life and limbs of the citizens of TT. That is all I am about.”

Hosein said he had sent correspondences to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Works and Transport, and lobbied for the cable barriers via the media but nothing was done. On Saturday, he also stood in front of the PM’s White Hall office, and at Shoppes of Maraval holding a sign with photos of his own accident, advocating for the barriers.

“I am extremely disappointed with the government because we the citizens appoint them to do a job for a safer TT and they fail to.

“I want to extend condolences to all the families who have lost members, especially through a cross-over accident, which could have been easily avoided if the cable barrier was there.”

When a vehicle hits cable barriers, the cables flex, absorbing some of the shock of the impact, reduce disabling injuries and fatalities. They also catch the vehicles and redirecting them onto the road, thereby avoiding median-crossover crashes. Cable barriers also usually cost less than permanent concrete barriers.

Hosein said he still had to make the drive between his Preysal home and work in San Fernando and, after all these years, the drive was still traumatising, especially because there were still no barriers in place to prevent what happened to him from occurring again.

“The most valuable thing is human life and limbs. Even if they (cable barriers) are expensive, the government should find the money to do it. If it can’t be done, once there is something to prevent cross-over accidents, I’m fine with that.”

For years, Arrive Alive president Sharon Inglefield has been calling for barriers on the nation’s highways.

She said the government needed to do its due diligence and, using international standards, decide what were the best barriers for the high volume of traffic and speed limit on the highways. Also, the barriers had to be well-maintained or they would be of no use and, in fact, could cause more damage.

“We need to have barriers on all our highways that are well-maintained. It (the number of damaged cable barriers) shows you how many lives they have saved, but they must be maintained. The government must budget for recurring maintenance on all our highways.”

“The minister (of Works and Transport, Rohan Sinanan) increased the speed limit (from 80 to 100 km/h), therefore, the ministry has a responsibility and a duty to maintain our barrier system to ensure we have a safe road network.”