Latest update March 20th, 2023 12:59 AM
Feb 28, 2023 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Road fatalities are on the rise, and steeply so. Serious injuries from traffic accidents have also crept up when this year is compared to the same period of last year. We have laws in place, roads that are familiar to most citizens, and traffic officers usually visible or in motion.
Our road users, especially drivers, are not unaware of what is expected of them. Similarly, our pedestrians and pedal cyclists must be sensitive to the nature of the roads they travel, inclusive of congestions and multiple perils that make every trip, daily venture, on our roads the equivalent of venturing into a war zone. This is the norm considering the endless threats and problems that can be encountered in any journey, including the shortest ones.
Since all of this is common knowledge, then what is the problem on our roads? Why are there these chronic concerns about safety and the menace of constant personal jeopardy? Police authorities have their statistics, hard experiences from eyewitness observations, and more than comprehensive insights about the culture of our roads and drivers. This is the horror of daily traffic conditions on our roads, the culture now embedded, now flourishing.
The Guyana Police Force confirms what ordinary citizens know the situation is that glaring. Drivers are reckless, drivers are speeding, drivers operate under the influence, and drivers have the greatest disregard for regulations and other users of the road. Following too closely at unhealthy speeds, constant honking of horns, and flashing headlights provide lengthy trails of evidence about impatience with others, haste to get from one place to another in the shortest time, and an overriding arrogance. Traffic violators are the most visible and audible, the obvious examples, of growing lawlessness that prevails across Guyana. Every man is a power in his own eyes, one not to be tampered with, one with whom to take chances could backfire swiftly, horribly.
The chronic lawlessness has several sides. First, road users, and this is not limited to drivers alone, form their own conclusions of who in high places break the law, including traffic laws, and are allowed to get away with doing so. There are too many stories of police roadblocks to snare drunk drivers, only for attending ranks to be called off by a call made by an inebriated driver to some senior officer, who passes the appropriate order to let the offender go. Second, uniformed traffic officers are more noticeable on our roadways, either on foot or on motorcycle patrol, but all too frequently, they either turn a blind eye to obvious violations, or are too busy trying to shakedown the unwary or the weak. Third, at a wider arc, there is the widespread perception that politicians and friends operate by a different standard, one largely criminal, and are able to make hay while the sun shines.
Furious and frustrated road users first throw up their hands, then throw caution to the winds. They will take their chances, and too bad for whoever gets in the way, is made to feel the mangling from their abandon to madness. If they (the leaders can get away with murder), then why not those operating below the radar? In other words, what is good for the head goose is also good for the lowly gander. Drivers of private vehicles, and some engaged in public transportation, stop or park wherever they feel like.
This is regardless of who is inconvenienced, or for how long. Further, there are so many tinted vehicles on the road today that there is difficulty distinguishing who is behind the wheel, and who they could really be behind the forbidding exterior. When these not so little things against the rules are broken at will, then it is just a matter of time for the bigger traffic violations to be taken in stride by both drivers, pedestrians, and other users. We cry when there is carnage, after that the routines of speed and discourtesy and disregard return in fuller force. When there is the perception that the law only applies to some, or more to some than to others, with the police complicit, then chaos results. We are living with that on our roads, aren’t we?
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