OVER the past few days, five persons lost their lives to traffic accidents in three separate accidents. A three-way collision on the Railway Embankment Road at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown on Saturday last, claimed two lives with another person seriously injured. According to media reports, the driver was attempting to overtake another vehicle when it collided with a third vehicle.
Another accident took place on the same day at Mahaicony Branch Road, in which a motor vehicle plunged into a canal, killing two persons. And in yet another recent incident in Georgetown, a motorcyclist lost his life when his motorcycle ended up in a concrete drain.
What do all of these accidents have in common? According to media reports, the drivers were all driving at a fast pace and in the process lost control of their vehicles, resulting in serious accidents and unfortunately, deaths.
These three recent accidents have once again drawn to the attention of all Guyanese the need to exercise care and caution in the use of our roadways. There is a saying that ‘accidents just don’t happen, they are caused.’ And while this may not always be the case, the fact is that many of the accidents on our roads could have been avoided had there been adherence to the traffic laws.
One major cause of accidents on our roads is speeding. Despite the several measures taken by the Police Traffic Department to curb speeding on the road, motorists continue to drive way above statutory speed limits. The five ‘Cs’– Care, Caution, Courtesy, Consideration and Commonsense — taught at our driving schools, seemed to have been forgotten or ignored altogether by many motorists. Motorists fail to observe a fundamental principle of good driving, which is one of keeping a safe braking distance and not exceeding the required speed limits.
Another contributory factor to traffic accidents is driving under the influence of alcohol. A significant number of vehicular accidents are attributable to driving under the influence of alcohol and excessive speeding. Driving under the influence of alcohol and the use of any psychoactive substances or drug greatly increase the likelihood of accidents.
The hard fact is that approximately 1.3 million people globally die each year as a result of traffic accidents. That is almost twice the population of Guyana! This is indeed a startling figure.
Road traffic deaths and injuries cause considerable economic losses to individuals, families and by extension to the society as a whole. The costs, however, go beyond economic and financial and could also be physical and emotional.
The Traffic Department has been intensifying efforts to control speeding on the roads but despite these efforts, deaths on our roadways continue to be problematic. The PPP/C Government has been spending considerable sums of money to upgrade roads and highways and putting in lights and CCTV cameras at strategic points, which in some ways have helped to reduce accidents on the road. In fact, according to statistics released by the Traffic Department, there has been a 32 per cent reduction in road accidents and deaths so far for 2021. This is encouraging news, but this should not be reason for complacency. Any death by accident on our roads is one too many.
We all have a role to play in the prevention of road accidents. It cannot be the responsibility of the Police Traffic Department alone. There continue to be reports of drivers who allegedly obtain their licences without going through the required procedures and driving protocols. And we are all too familiar with allegations of drivers who offer bribes to traffic ranks in order to circumvent the legal processes.
Actions such as those do not help in the quest to bring down the rate of traffic offences in Guyana and the consequential number of road fatalities.