Police Commissioner not backing `governor'

Guyana Chronicle
February 8, 2001

`It's like a drug...speeding is like a contagious illness. You see a man speeding and you want to speed...'

- Police Commissioner Laurie Lewis

by Abigail Kippins THE use of the `governor', a device installed under the accelerator of motor vehicles to prevent them going over a certain speed, may be hazardous, Police Commissioner, Laurie Lewis feels.

He yesterday explained that sometimes drivers may need to accelerate to avoid a collision.

Around mid last year, Home Affairs Minister, Mr Ronald Gajraj was asked to look at urgently introducing a mechanical device among other measures to check excessive speeding by vehicles, especially those in the public transportation system.

Speeding has reportedly been the major contributor to many fatal road crashes.

It is believed that with the installation of the `governor', such fatalities can be prevented.

However, Lewis told the Chronicle that there are times when one may have to accelerate at short notice and if there is a limitation to the speed, one could be in trouble.

"...if the situation arises where you have to accelerate and react quickly/rapidly and there is the governor under the accelerator, you could be doomed."

He recalled that he was once caught in such a situation where he tried to overtake and nearly collided with an oncoming vehicle but due to quick reaction and an increase in his speed, he was able to avoid a crash.

According to the Commissioner, people need to first understand why the drivers feel it is necessary to speed.

He said that based on his experiences over the years, almost as soon as someone learns to drive, he/she speeds.

Then there are some persons who consider themselves competent drivers and give themselves the right to speed, he said.

"It's like a drug...speeding is like a contagious illness. You see a man speeding and you want to speed..."

According to him, the condition of the roads also poses a problem and many drivers view a smooth, wide road as an invitation to speed.

He said many drivers only decrease their pace whenever there are potholes on the road.

If there is a smooth stretch of road, the drivers "fly through", Lewis said.

He noted that the police have also been a contributory factor to the `lawlessness' on the country's roads and many times accept bribes.

In this regard, the Commissioner noted that raising fines as a penalty for those found speeding may not be effective.

"I could well imagine somebody in authority accepting bribes even if they did not ask for it...", he stated.

He commented that when the fines rise, a smaller figure becomes more attractive to someone involved in law enforcement.

"This destroys the fabric that we try to make better", he said, noting that the problem needs to be attacked at a fundamental level.

"I think that if we deal with traffic comprehensively things may change.

"We can put in a lot of short stops to make people pull themselves together but all agencies must be involved; the courts, the public, police, drivers", he said.

The problem can be solved, he added, but people's attitudes have to change.

He said both the passengers and the drivers verbally attack the police whenever they try to enforce traffic laws.

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