Kaieteur News – The recent countrywide campaign by the police to interdict road violators has seen more than 2,000 alleged offenders receiving charges or tickets in just six days. This swift action is undoubtedly necessary, given the rampant indiscipline on our roads. However, addressing the issue of road deaths requires a multi-pronged approach that extends beyond punitive measures.
Recent spikes in road fatalities, particularly among young drivers, have raised significant concerns about the drivers’ certification process particularly for very young drivers.
One of the first steps in ensuring road safety is to investigate the certification of drivers, particularly young ones involved in fatal accidents. While it is impractical and unnecessary at this stage to investigate the licensing of all young drivers, given the high incidence of accidents involving young drivers, the police should determine whether those recently involved in accidents drivers possessed licenses validly obtained or whether to use a local expression, some or any of those involved were guilty of “buying their licences.” Investigations into recent fatal accidents will be able to identify and rectify systemic whether there was abuse of the licensing procedures.
Our roads are inundated with vehicles, contributing to congestion and dangerous driving conditions. Reducing traffic density is a crucial aspect of improving road safety. Building more roads are costly but other measures can be deployed to reduce traffic density at particular times. For example, a bypass road from the East Bank to Ogle is being built. Efforts should be concentrated on at least having one lane completed so that at least during the construction phase, light one-way traffic can use that bypass thus easing the congestion on other roads.
The state of road lighting, especially during nighttime, plays a significant role in preventing accidents. Poorly illuminated roads increase the likelihood of collisions and make it challenging for drivers to navigate safely. The government must invest in improving road lighting infrastructure, ensuring that all roads, including residential areas, have adequate illumination to enhance visibility and reduce nighttime accidents. There are places on existing roads where there are complaints about visibility at nights.
Traffic congestion is another major problem. This not only leads to frustration but also forces drivers to speed, increasing the risk of accidents. To mitigate congestion, the government should examine closely the issue of zoning. The northern part of the city, for example is very quiet and almost deserted at nights. But during the daytime, it is clogged with traffic. Too many businesses are concentrated in that part of the city which was previously a residential district. Zoning will help to reduce congestion.
The proliferation of businesses in residential areas is creating a nightmare for traffic management. Zoning regulations and urban planning should prioritize the separation of commercial and residential zones to minimize congestion and enhance road safety. Someone mentioned that the President has a second degree in urban planning. Perhaps he can apply some of his knowledge to restore proper zoning to urban areas.
Improved road infrastructure will greatly assist. Roundabouts have proven effective in managing the flow of traffic at crossroads. More of these are needed including at the western end of the Demerara Harbour Bridge, in the area round Cuffy Square and in other parts of the country. In the city, there are roundabouts which existed since colonial times and which need to be simply marked out. One such area is the roundabout in front of the Bank of Guyana.
It is good initiative of the government to enhance the look of roundabouts by placing monuments and fountains in the center of these roundabouts. But Guyanese have to understand that these are not places to go to take out photo-ops. This practice should be ceased immediately.
While therefore the recent crackdown on road violators is a commendable effort by the police to address the rampant indiscipline on our roads, it is not sufficient. Tackling the high incidence of road accidents and deaths requires a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy. Investigating driver certification, reducing traffic density, improving road lighting, managing traffic congestion, and regulating businesses in residential areas should all be components of this strategy.
Ultimately, the government must take the lead in orchestrating these efforts, working in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, urban planners, and the community. By adopting a holistic approach to road safety, we can hope to significantly reduce the tragic toll of road deaths in our country and create safer, more efficient roadways for all citizens.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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