09 March 2014

Fundasaun Mahein (FM): Underage Drivers and Perilous Road Conditions in Dili

ETLJB 09/02/2014 -From Fundasaun Mahein 03/03/2014 : This past Sunday, the 23rd of February, an underage driver hit and killed a Timorese woman on the streets of Dili. This incident is just the latest reminder of the hazards that underage drivers present to road safety in Dili. The presence of underage youth operating motor vehicles in the capital city seems to be increasingly common occurrence. Many of these drivers lack training and experience, drive recklessly, and display a blatant disregard for other vehicles and the rules of the road (such as the proper use of directional blinkers). Furthermore, the convergence of youth migration to Dili coupled with an increase in the rate of underage drivers in the city is a troubling indication of things to come.

According to PNTL statistics, Dili recorded a total of 994 traffic accidents in 2013, accounting for 64% of the 1,534 total recorded traffic accidents in Timor-Leste. PNTL records also show that accidents in Dili resulted in 557 minor injuries (out of 1,228 nationwide), 95 serious injuries (out 328 nationwide), and 32 fatalities (out 73 nationwide). These figures establish Dili’s standing as the city with the most dangerous road conditions in Timor-Leste. 

Although there are currently no statistics available to support the claim that underage drivers are the main cause of hazardous roads in Dili, the high rate of youths in Dili indicates that there may be a correlation between young drivers and increased accident rates in the city.  If the problem of underage drivers is left unchecked, Dili’s alarming road conditions will only continue to get worse. FM implores the government and the PNTL to formulate policy in response to this problem, to ensure that driving age legislation is enforced effectively and comprehensively
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