Too many lives lost in road fatalities

first_img2018 is coming to a close, and most of us, in our reflections, would accept that it has been one fraught with many challenges, as well as some positive developments. This year will go down as yet another year when Guyana experienced some of the most horrific road accidents, resulting in the loss of lives and injuries to countless others. The three most recent accidents involved teens who were killed in accidents that could have been avoid had caution be taken on the roadway.On Friday last, Police Commissioner Leslie James, in giving a breakdown of some crime and accident statistics for 2018, said there has been an overall spike in the number of fatal accidents recorded when compared to the same period last year.He used his platform to make some requests, which can affect how the GPF can function in a positive manner. Those include provisions for a traffic advisory board, training board and promotion board. At present, consultations have been convened to determine whether these panels should be reinstated. As a matter of fact, the Commissioner is quoted as saying, “There is need for the traffic advisory board. There is need for a training board and, of course, a promotion board. We have strongly recommended the resuscitation of those boards. If we are an organisation that can be recognised as a prudent organisation, those boards ought to be in place.”Guyana has been ranked in top countries in the world that have not undertaken sufficient efforts to reduce accidents, in keeping with the UN strategy. Guyana must therefore step up its efforts in order to catch up with the other countries, and be on track towards achieving the goal set out in the UN agreement.Almost every week, there is some news that someone has been killed on our roadways, and despite actions on several fronts, including enacting the relevant legislation and increasing the number of ‘campaigns’, we do not seem to be winning the battle in significantly reducing the number of road deaths.Even though there is legislation in place to ensure that persons use the roads in a responsible manner, there are still major lapses in the system which need to be addressed. To begin with, we stress the need for greater enforcement of the traffic laws. This has been the call from almost every stakeholder in the country. There is legislation in place in relation to driving under the influence, loud music in vehicles, overloading, speeding, etc; but if the laws are not adequately implemented, they become useless.It would be interesting to find out how many of the drivers/conductors who are actually stopped for breaking a traffic law are actually charged and sent to court. While we do not intend to paint the entire Police Force with the same brush, as there are many professional and honest officers within the Force, we are convinced that unless what is perceived as the endemic corruption in the organisation — and the Traffic Section in particular — is addressed in a systematic way, we will be unsuccessful in dealing with the issue.Further, collecting reliable data is also essential to improving road safety and reducing risks for pedestrians. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), data systems in most countries remain poor.Along with the measures being undertaken by the law enforcement authorities to reduce the number of road fatalities, there is need for all Guyanese to move away from the culture of disregard and irresponsibility in relation to using the roadways. The Education Ministry and other relevant stakeholders should examine the possibility of strengthening the school’s curriculum with the aim of increasing knowledge, skills and understanding among children and young people about the responsible use of our roadways. Similar efforts should also be made targeting the adult population, as they, too, are sometimes found to be irresponsible when using our roadways.Even though some progress has been made, our hope is that 2019 will see a drastic reduction in road fatalities here.last_img

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