– President blames “insane” increase on speed, DUI
– says Govt., police, NGOs, civil society must play a role to make road safer
President David Granger has described as “insane” the recent increase of road accidents in the last few weeks. Speeding and alcohol were the main factors which led to 21 persons being killed in a deadly November.
There is a fix, according to the President – the police force, road safety bodies, civil societies and others will have to play a role to make the roads safer.
The uncharacteristically strong language from Granger came in a statement yesterday, one day after the Coalition Government would have held its weekly Cabinet meeting.
The issue of road safety has been a headliner in recent weeks, as public outrage rose over a number of accidents, many of them due to carelessness and speed.
The blame was laid at the feet of especially bus drivers (many of them young) and taxi drivers.
The accusations were that many of them were paying bribes for their driver’s licences.
Yesterday, President Granger made it clear that he is distressed by the deaths, disabilities and injuries and damage to property caused by accidents on the roads.
“I extend the sympathy of my Cabinet and Government to the relatives, families and friends of those who have been killed or injured as a result of road accidents. I wish the survivors a speedy recovery.”
According to Granger, road accidents represent a threat to human safety.
“Every accident is one too many; every death is too great a loss that our country cannot afford. The record is grave: Young persons between the ages of 16 and 42 years comprised more than three out of every five fatalities.”
For November alone, the toll has been terrible.
“Twenty-one persons, including three children, died as a result of 15 road accidents in November. One hundred and fourteen persons, nine of whom were children, were killed in 97 road accidents this year.”
The figures are deeply alarming, the President said.“This insane increase in road fatalities has been caused, mainly, by persons driving at excessive speeds; driving under the influence of alcohol; driving without due care and attention (or inattentiveness) and driving on roads which are congested or unsafe for other road users, particularly pedestrians, 30 of whom were killed.”
According to Granger, he had proposed a three-point approach to road safety in an address at the launch of Road Safety Month, on the 4th of November 2015.
The three-point approach involved more stringent enforcement of the traffic laws, including those driving under the influence of alcohol; playing distracting music and the use of cellular phones while driving.
According to the president, stricter enforcement will help to promote greater safety on the roads with regular and rigorous patrols of notorious, high-risk zones conducted during daylight and at night.
The statement said that speed limits and limitations on the lawful complement of cargo and passengers by commercial and public transportation vehicles, must be established.
The president said that he had also called for greater road safety education through a systematic and sustained countrywide campaign to be conducted.
With regards to the problematic driver’s licence system, Granger said he had called for the process to be strengthened to ensure that only competent and responsible persons are certified to drive vehicles.
“….especially passenger vehicles, on roadways; passengers, themselves, have a primary interest in their own safety and should ensure that the vehicles in which they are travelling are not overloaded, speeding or playing excessively loud music; and improved engineering solutions to ensure safer roadways, many of which were never intended to be highways or public roads…”
The statement reminded that attention should be on the re-engineering of roadways for safety by clearer signage and markings, including conspicuous pedestrian ‘zebra’ crossings and lane lines which must be visible on all roads; sidewalks, pavements and overpasses.
Granger said that no-parking zones and bus stops must be marked; traffic signals should be maintained in working condition and traffic policemen must be deployed at high-risk zones to deter lawlessness and direct the safe flow of traffic on urban and rural roadways during peak hours and, particularly, during the most deadly days and nights – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“I urge all road-users to observe the Guyana Police Force’s code of behaviour – care, caution, consideration, common sense and courtesy – as they drive on our roadways. I am confident that the Government, Police Force, non-governmental organisations – such as Regional Road Safety Associations – and civil society could combine their efforts to make road use safe for everyone.”
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