Opinion: Weighing options

POSTED: 04/26/12 1:02 PM

We rather marveled at the reaction by truck driver Marlon Brooks to Monday’s traffic accident whereby his 35-ton trailer truck rolled over at the Kruythoff roundabout in Cole Bay.

It is not often that someone is able to provide such an insight in an event that seems such an open and shut case for outsiders.

Of course the truck was coming down the hill at too high a speed, Brooks noted. But he was not speeding: the brakes of both his truck and the container failed.

This will obviously become an issue that warrants further investigation, especially because Brooks says that he inspects his truck every day before he goes on the road. How do you test the air brakes of such a road monster? We do not have the technical expertise to offer an opinion on that subject, but as the outsider that we are, we feel free to note that when the brakes on a truck and on the container behind it both fail, something is amiss.

This is not to say that this is the driver’s fault. On the contrary, we feel that Brooks’ version of what happened credible enough to make it our front page story. The way this driver kept his cool, knowing what was going to happen, is in a way impressive.

But it does of course not take away concerns among other road users that there ought to be an airtight control system in place to make sure that these large trucks are in a technically proper condition when they go on the road.

The calls for such inspections erupted last year, after the truck accident that took the life of a twelve-year old school girl. But these emotional calls seldom lead to practical results.

Monday’s accident will obviously trigger a milder reaction, simply because nobody got injured, there were no damages to other property or vehicles, and the driver got out of his truck more or less in one piece.

The reality is that not everything is perfect in a small community like St. Maarten, and it never will be. This is why we value the truck driver’s explanation so much. Brooks shows that he is a responsible driver, and that he is very much aware of anything that could happen with his truck while he is on the road. And what’s more: he has shown an ability to weigh his options in the middle of such a crisis. For that alone we commend him.

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