HAVE you noticed that every single day and moreso on weekends (and now that school holidays are here), there is one thing you’re bound to see when on the roadways of Guyana? And it is a most concerning, disturbing sight: toddlers and young children standing in the front seat of vehicles or in between the driver’s and passenger seats, or standing sticking their heads through the window as their parents/guardians drive on the highways with his/her own seatbelt securely fastened, oblivious to any of the grave dangers of allowing a child to be unrestrained in a moving vehicle. You can also see in other instances, the children sitting on the laps of parents or relatives who are also strapped in safely and the child in his/her care sitting up sometimes with little hands on dashboards or against the back of seats. Not to mention the infants and babies held and not in the recommended car seats. Car seats save lives, just as seat belts do.
Section 45F(1) of our Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act clearly states that every driver of a motor vehicle which conveys a child shall cause such child to wear or be conveyed in an appropriate child- restraint system. It goes on to say that a driver who contravenes this sub-section commits an offence and is liable on summary jurisdiction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.
The Act goes on to state that the device used for securing the child should be designed “either to be fixed directly to an anchorage point, or be used in conjunction with an adult seat belt and held in place by the restraining action of the belt.”
Over two years ago, the then Traffic Chief Mr Dion Moore, was reported as saying that “the ‘child restraint’ law was not at the time being enforced by the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and that they were then in sensitisation mode. Once awareness was raised on this matter, Moore said enforcement would begin.
Just yesterday, our current Traffic Chief Superintendent Mr. Linden Isles said, “The attitude of drivers… contributes to a variety of accidents…. We continue to educate and enforce the laws, so there will come a time when persons will realise that their attitude will have to change.”
I sincerely hope that time is now. Let us start the immediate enforcement of this law and advocate protecting our children on the roadways.