It doesn’t require an in-depth understanding of physics concepts such as angular momentum, inertia and torque to recognize that attempting to negotiate a curve at high velocity tends to make things topple over. Local experience will suffice.
In mid-June, a cement truck overturned at a roundabout near Public Beach, causing a spectacle and a road hazard. In April 2012, again at the roundabout near Grand Harbour, a truck hauling a full load of aggregate careened onto its side, dumping marl into the Scotiabank parking lot. Those are just a couple of examples that made the pages of this newspaper; the vast majority do not. In Cayman, these unsafe practices have caused injuries and, yes, deaths. (Truck accidents tend to be particularly unpleasant.)
On Wednesday afternoon, a truck spilled its payload of plywood near the Grand Harbour roundabout, blocking the road and bringing afternoon rush-hour traffic to a standstill. More distressingly, a red BMW next to the truck wound up riding over the stack of plywood, damaging the vehicle. The BMW’s occupant(s), and indeed all people who were close by, were lucky they didn’t end up beneath the plywood.
It is important to note that, in this most recent situation, we do not yet know who was “at fault,” or if speed or improper loading were factors in the accident. For instance, the truck may have been cut off by another vehicle, or had to swerve to avoid an obstacle. We only mention Wednesday’s traffic jam to illustrate the immediate effects that such an accident can cause.
When trucks are, however, speeding or carrying unsafe loads, the problem, fundamentally, isn’t the roundabouts — or the cargo — it’s the people loading and driving the trucks. To use a term from chemistry class, the roundabout is an “accelerant” that hastens the reaction to the perilous situation created by human negligence.
Everyone who travels the streets of Cayman on a regular basis can bear witness to instances where trucks — carrying lumber, marl, furniture, landscaping materials, garbage, junk, you name it — have been packed with too much stuff, or else do not have their cargo properly secured, and — materials teetering, tottering, spilling out and flying off — nevertheless speed and weave through traffic, as if they were stock cars racing down the home stretch at Daytona, or menacing motorbikes tearing through West Bay, rather than hulking vehicles navigating crowded surface roads.
Cayman’s regulations to the Traffic Law clearly stipulate, in a section titled “Unsafe loading,” that inadequately secured or restrained cargo, that poses a “danger” or a “nuisance,” is grounds for a $400 fine, six months’ imprisonment, or both.
We vote for both.
At this point, posed with problems that are obvious, hazardous and subject to unambiguous legal guidance, we feel obliged to inquire, “Where are our police?” (In our minds, the issue of unsafely loaded trucks is analogous to the issue of dark-tinted windows — except that the former constitutes a clear and present danger.)
The potential loss of inventory, and the causing of collateral damage to human life, are apparently not sufficient impetus to dissuade truck loaders, and truck drivers, from engaging in behavior that puts the rest of us at risk.
It is past time for law enforcement to use their ticket books to enforce the laws that are on the books.