The number of lives being lost on our roadways is frightening, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI), Annette Ferguson said yesterday as she touted the need for behavioural change.
Minister Ferguson, who was delivering remarks at a Road Safety Workshop held at the Marriott Hotel, noted that drivers need to take more responsibility for the safety of their passengers and themselves. She said also, that urgent intervention is needed, as she outlined the difference between safety cultures abroad and what currently exists here.
“When you travel to countries and you use the transport services, you immediately notice the difference in safety culture. Passengers are properly seat-belted, children seatbelts and safety restraints are in place. Drivers are more cautious.
I am not saying that in those countries you don’t have delinquent drivers, but they have a higher form of safety culture. In Guyana, we need to improve on our road safety culture. Road users need to think – Safety First,”
Ferguson added that road safety cannot be achieved in isolation and therefore, there needs to be a collective input from stakeholders.
She outlined several measures that will be implemented in the future which will contribute to positive changes in road-user behaviour. These include: additional laws and regulations; a well-resourced Road Safety Council; a penalty-point system for ‘errant and recalcitrant’ drivers; seatbelt use for occupants in rear seats of vehicles; and introduction of speed or safety cameras.
The two-day Road Safety Workshop is being hosted by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure in collaboration with the International Road Federation (IRF).
The workshop is primarily geared towards the transferring of knowledge and skills that will enable participants to accurately diagnose safety issues associated with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
The workshop will also help guide in the selection of appropriate actions and countermeasures to address road accidents.
Present at the event were stakeholders from different bodies, including the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Guyana National Road Safety Council (GNRSC).
“Guyana’s road fatalities statistics are frightening, especially for a country with such a small population.
She made reference to the recent road fatalities on our roadways and singled out the deaths of three persons under the age of 25.
“These are the most vulnerable category of road users. It is noteworthy that if those persons had not suffered death due to reckless drivers, they would have been alive today to enjoy what life has to offer,”
Ferguson said that the Government, through various Ministries and Agencies over the years, has ‘taken the mantle’ in addressing and curbing the ‘callous reality’ of road traffic accidents.
Many other initiatives are being explored to adequately wrestle and respond to the inevitable reality of traffic accidents.
The Minister said that the numerous “massive” road rehabilitation/construction projects are now being done with a greater emphasis on safety.
“We are ensuring proper and adequate road signage, road markings to ensure road users are guided properly; construction of sidewalks; installation of rails and pavement barriers; installation of streetlights; installation of traffic lights; road maintenance; and re-surfacing of damaged roads; placement of speed humps; participating in traffic management to improve mobility of road users; and promotion of road safety through education.”
Ferguson noted also that the Ministry is now planning to start constructing overpass bridges to improve the safety of pedestrians.
The IRF is a global not-for-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC which assists countries in progressing towards better, safer and smarter road systems.
Since 1948, the IRF supported by regional offices throughout the world, serves a network of public and private sector members in more than 70 countries by providing world-class knowledge resources, advocacy services, and continuing education programmes which together offer a global marketplace for best practices and industry solutions.
Since 1949, the IRF has awarded educational scholarships to individuals in 119 countries to pursue careers in the road and transport industry.
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