A number of measures deemed mandatory by both public officials, private businesses, and individual citizens, when taken together, have all meant less congested roads.
Less traveled and congested roads translate to longer and more open spaces. And this tempts the unwise and reckless to speed and with, all too frequently, deadly results.
This is what was headlined in the online Reuters edition of June 26, “Car crashes deadlier as drivers speed during lockdown.”
Why not and how many are able to resist that standing invitation to give it some gas, a lot of gas, and the heady roar of engines pushed into the red zone? There is the wide-open road, with little in the way to interfere. Truth be told, few of us can be disciplined enough to manage the rush of blood that comes. Rather regrettably, many times that rush of blood is not a figure of speech, but literal, as in spilled when the life drains away from one of these speeding incidents.
Curfews imposed by states, closures found necessary by businesses through lack of demand or what is deemed essential and non-essential, and the choices-sometimes compulsory-made by private citizens forced many to stay away from work, school, and the usual haunts of modern social life, viz: bars and restaurants, sports arenas and exercise gyms, and let there be no forgetting of places of worship and weddings and funerals, and so forth.
In general terms, other than for the absolute necessities of life, such as replacement greens and vegetables from municipal markets, and food supplies from supermarkets, large segments of populations have been forced indoors and usually stay indoors.
All of this means more road space available to race recklessly forward, or to one’s death, if not that of others, who just happen to be nearby at the time.
Some statistics from the Reuters article referenced should help emphasize the message presented here, regarding the dangers embedded: “the ratio of fatal crashes to all collisions rose 167% in April from a year ago…292%…and 65%” in New York City, Chicago, and Boston respectively.
Though in the United States, the vital lifesaving point in this, for all of us Guyanese drivers, is that little phrase, which should not be lost amidst those staggering numbers, and which is: “the ratio of fatal crashes to all collisions.”
Reuters, and we at this paper, are not talking about fender benders and those accidents from which everyone walks away towards living another day. We are talking about dying here. Dying here from the extreme speeding that is irresistible from way less crowded roads.
As Reuters noted, “in Britain, police documented instances of people driving at what they described as exceptionally high speeds of over 130 miles (209 km) per hour.” Now that is really speeding, and at anywhere near to those speeds, anything such as tyre problem, an unknown dent in the road, an errant pedestrian, or cyclists (or stray animal), could mean death for all involved. There is no thrill in such an end, and what it means for promise and family left behind to grieve at the unnecessary waste of it all.
There is still another side to this, fewer people on the roads and less vehicular traffic should mean fewer accidents, and they do. It is that alarming rise in fatal accidents, one more time: fatal accidents that cause so many pains and agonies and, worse, funerals. In view of what we are discussing, they are most likely closed-casket ones.
We think that this is especially relevant to our own Guyanese drivers, who have a history of dangerous speeding. Though we do not have the superhighways of other places, there are the alluring spots such as the Upper East Bank carriageway, the Linden Highway, the multi-laned East Coast straightaway and the emptier stretches beyond Mahaicony. Right on the edge of Georgetown, there is Homestretch Avenue with its temptation to speed at high rates.
In addition to our known addiction to speeding, there is its devilish twin, alcohol. Though somewhat reduced now, alcohol is still too much part of our culture, and with that inhibitions at speeding vanish. For all these reasons, we urge our fellow drivers: be sensible, be careful, be aware of the fatal consequences that visit speeding on those inviting open roads made empty by the lockdown.
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