Head-on road collisions take heavy toll

by Sharon Lall
Guyana Chronicle
August 22, 2000

HEAD-on collisions have kept `hit and run' accidents in the minority and have this year so far claimed the most lives on the roadways of Guyana.

The current road fatality figure is 102 compared with 106 for the same period last year, acting Traffic Chief and Deputy Traffic Officer, Mr Fred Wilson said yesterday.

Several hundred persons have been charged and some taken before the courts, especially for excessive speeding.

The Police have this year filed more than 500 traffic cases, a considerably higher figure over the previous year, Wilson told the Chronicle.

Speeding is prevalent on the Linden Soesdyke Highway and the East Bank Demerara public road.

Georgetown, which now holds the record for the most fatal accidents in 2000, is plagued by speeding, greater obstruction to traffic and a higher degree of failure by drivers to stop at major roads, he said.

More adults have died on the roadway this year than children, Wilson reported.

A Division (Georgetown) so far has 35 road deaths this year compared to 37 last year; B Division (Berbice) has 20 as against 23; C Division (East Coast Demerara) has 27 as against 19; D Division (West Coast Demerara) has 10 as against 15; E Division (Essequibo) has eight as against four and F Division (Linden) has two as against seven.

This year, 20 pedal cyclists have been killed, compared to 23 last year; the figure is nine as against four for motor cyclists; one as against 10 for pillion riders; 10 as against 16 for drivers (general); 0 as against one for drivers (tractors); one as against three for passengers in lorries and vans; 16 as against nine for passengers in mini-buses; 11 as against 0 for passengers in motor cars; 33 as against 46 for and 0 as against three for persons towed on bicycles.

Wilson said death by accidents has, among other reasons, come about because of speeding; inexperienced drivers; faulty overtaking; error of judgement and driving close to incoming or outgoing vehicles.

It is an "attitudinal problem", he said, where people fail to acknowledge that they are not the only ones using the roadway.

"...Because of their attitude they drive without consideration for other persons," the Traffic official said.

He noted, however, that the traffic situation is not as bad as some believe.

"Accidents occur because persons fail to observe the rules. It is not so alarming as people might think...to say that the traffic situation is out of control would not be accurate because I think we (the Police) are controlling the traffic situation," Wilson remarked.

To deal with the road crisis on a long-term basis, the official said there is need for law reform and stiffer penalties in the form of new legislation.

Although the `Governor' gadget and the mandatory wearing of seatbelts have been mooted as means to help curb the carnage on the road, neither has actually been implemented.

The requisite legislation for both is yet to be enacted.

Wilson has urged, though, that persons wear seatbelts to protect themselves from serious injury in the advent of an accident.

They should also exercise caution when travelling at nights and avoid "dazzling" other road users with bright headlights, he said.

Wilson maintained that the Police are always willing to accept advice from citizens who are traffic conscious and want to make contributions to the department.

This year, seminars for drivers are likely to be arranged before and amid `Road Safety Week' in November.

Police not in uniform could also be made to do rounds on the roads to spot traffic breaches and report their findings to base via radio sets.

The Police now have rigid traffic enforcement measures which target speeding motorists, overloaded vehicles and reckless driving, in general.

Education programmes are also under way at schools, on television and the radio to sensitise road users, Wilson said.

Businesses and the public wanting to assist in the drive to reduce the road fatality can start by reporting traffic violations, volunteering their services as traffic wardens or donating traffic signs and paint for road markings, he said.

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