With the latest road accident claiming the life of an 18-year-old motorcyclist on Tuesday night, President David Granger on Wednesday issued a statement in which he urged citizens to take note of the alarming statistics and the necessary action to reverse the trend.
President Granger said the deaths, disabilities and injuries and damage to property caused by accidents on the country’s roads are “deeply distressing” to him and his government.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Reacting specifically to the recent increase in accidents, the Head of State said this “insane increase” in road fatalities has been caused mainly by persons driving at excessive speeds, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without due care and attention.
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 and 30 of those killed in accidents so far this year were pedestrians.
To this end, the President reminded that he had proposed a three-point approach to road safety in his address at the launch of Road Safety Month on November 4, 2015.
The President used the opportunity to 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,” he added.
The President’s three-point approach involved: more stringent enforcement of traffic laws including those proscribing driving under the influence of alcohol, playing distracting music and the use of cellular phones while driving.
Mr Granger said stricter enforcement will help to promote greater safety on the roads; regular and rigorous patrols of notorious, high-risk zones must be conducted during daylight and at night; speed limits and limitations on the lawful complement of cargo and passengers by commercial and public transportation vehicles must be established.
He believes too that the drivers’ licensing process must 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.”
The President also promised improved engineering solutions to ensure safer roadways, many of which were never intended to be highways or public roads; some must be “re-engineered” 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, where possible, must be installed to ensure pedestrian safety; 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.