A traffic accident starts with you

Annually both Curaçao and Aruba deal with an extremely large number of traffic accidents resulting in many deaths and injuries, which is regrettable. Curaçao has about 12,000 traffic accidents per year and in Aruba there are approximately 10,000. By comparison, in Holland, according to the Dutch Scientific Research of Road Safety (SWOV) organization, in 2014 there were about 95,000 accidents. This means that in Aruba there are about 20 times and in Curacao about 16 times more accidents per 100,000 inhabitants than in Holland. According to road safety and driving expert Eric de Bree, this is way too much. During the Prevent Now seminar, held on October 14 in Aruba and on October 16 in Curacao, he will explain using numerous examples how traffic accidents are often the result of a combination of bad and unconscious choices and how drivers can be encouraged to drive safely and defensively.

Far too many traffic accidents on the island

Nobody leaves their house in the morning with the idea that they’re going to cause an accident. Yet in 2014 there were more than 10,000 traffic accidents. "Everyone thinks that they’re a good driver, but that’s not the case", says de Bree, who for years was a truck and bus driver throughout Europe and now works as a driving instructor for the Royal Dutch Tourist Association (ANWB) Drivers Academy, among other things. "Driving safely is a conscious choice. On the contrary, many traffic accidents are a combination of small, bad decisions, which are also made unconsciously. Not putting on your seat belt, driving too fast when approaching an intersection and driving too close to the vehicle in front of you on a busy, dangerous road, are all choices. Not knowing the traffic laws, as well as poorly maintaining your car, are also choices. Not checking your mirror for a second, not using your turn signal or using your cell phone, and then you have killed a motorcyclist. Many small and seemingly simple acts or not doing something, can lead to serious traffic accidents."

It’s always the same drivers who are in trouble

Most traffic accidents occur because the driver loses control of his vehicle. It intrigues de Bree why this happens. De Bree: "After an accident the person at fault usually blames the other driver. Statistics actually show that it is always the same drivers who get into trouble and drive aggressively on the road. Often they are not even aware of it. I coach drivers step-by-step. Driving in traffic is a fun game, but it should never be a contest. As an instructor, I show how much positive impact you can have on other drivers on the road and I point out to drivers all those little preventative choices you can make while on the road. That is often an eye-opener. "In Europe follow professional truck and bus drivers are required to pass a training course every five years in order to be able to continue to drive. Actually, for private motorists this would also be a very good idea", according to de Bree.

A drive around the island

De Bree is a practical man. "When I arrive on the island shortly, I will rent a car right away and I will set up four small cameras in the car so I can observe around me very carefully. I’m looking forward to a challenging drive around the island. Only when I understand the "language of the road", then I’ll share my opinions. In addition, I always pay attention to the lines, the lighting and the layout of the roads. Were the intersections and roundabouts clearly built? Are the lampposts and signs placed wisely and safely and do the traffic lights ensure that traffic flows logically?" Governments can, according to the traffic expert, actively contribute to safer traffic and also play an important role for insurance companies. De Bree has a clear advice for Aruba and Curaçao: "As a society, consciously invest in defensive driving behavior and analyze traffic accidents carefully and consistently. Make sure that you, as drivers, insurance companies and the government, continues to learn from all these collisions and accidents on the road, because every fatality is one too many."

Click here for more information, the program and to register for free.