‘Mothers in Black’ launch Decade of Action for Road Safety
Under the theme “Let’s work together to make our roads safe”, the Alicea Foundation, more familiarly known as ‘Mothers in Black’ staged a seminar yesterday at Avenue of the Republic (Muneshwer’s Car Park) at the local launching of the Global Decade of Action for Road Safety 2010-2020.
Among those in attendance were Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) representative in Guyana, Dr. Beverley Barnett, National Road Safety Council (NRSC) representatives, members of the diplomatic corps, GECOM chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally, and other special invitees.
The event was chaired by CEO of Ansa McAl, Ms. Beverley Harper, and commenced with a prayer for safety on our roads.
Ms. Harper told the gathering that for approximately four years ‘Mothers in Black’ stood quietly and peacefully in front of Parliament Building every Friday and demanded that politicians enact laws to enforce road users to practice safety on the roadways.
“The helmet law was re-enacted, the seatbelt law was imposed…the radar, the breathalyzer, it is amazing what you can do when you know you are supposed to do the right thing and you end up doing the right thing.”
Dr. Barnett, meanwhile, said the issue of road safety is a priority in any country, adding that the United Nations General Assembly has endorsed the global initiative for the Global Decade of Action for Road Safety 2010-2020 for the growing and alarming traffic injuries and death, and the need to strengthen prevention and control measures.
Noting that the major factors of road injuries are the non-use of helmets, seat belts and child restraints, in addition to drinking and driving, Dr.Barnett said the global decade for action hopes to save five million lives and prevent 50 million serious injuries – saving US$5 trillion over the next ten years.
She also informed that in the Western Hemisphere road traffic injuries are the number one cause of death of children between the ages of five and 14, and the second leading cause of death for people 15 to 44. Adding that traffic accidents kill more than 140,000 people each year in the region of the Americas, while more than five million suffer from non-fatal injuries resulting in permanent disabilities, which has a tremendous impact on the productivity in a country.
Dr. Barnett further asserted that in low income countries the majority of traffic deaths and injuries occur among pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. However, there is need to enforce the laws – more and stronger laws – while there is also the call for a change in the behaviour of road users and the improvement of post-crash care. It was also recommended that cyclists and motorcyclists have separate lanes as well as improved access to safe transportation.
She noted that PAHO/WHO has supported the schools’ patrol programme, parents and teacher training and driver education.
“We have provided support to the Guyana Road Safety Council to build its capacity and draft its strategy paper which was made operational through a national road safety plan; we have supported a road safety campaign and are supporting an emergency road study to document the connection between alcohol misuse and road crashes in Guyana…Mothers in Black has contributed to the strengthening of road safety in Guyana.”
Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee noted that there are more cars on the streets and the highways are expanding while the traffic police would be experiencing more challenges. However, the Mothers in Black which is a Non-Governmental Organization, has chartered the course for global road safety.
Adding that road safety is a daily business, Rohee said many drivers on the streets are very irresponsible while those who drive with caution are sometimes the victims of reckless road users.
Noting that enforcement and education must go hand in hand whether in urban or rural areas, Rohee further asserted it could be a truck, bus, tractor, or a car driver, the individual must be constantly educated on road safety.