Measures to curb speeding on the roads

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
July 10, 2000

President Bharrat Jagdeo is considering instituting speed restraints on vehicles using Guyana's roadways in an attempt to stop the carnage on the roads. At a media briefing on Friday, Jagdeo cited the possibility of legislative mechanisms as well as the placing of a mechanical device under the accelerator of vehicles to prevent speeding on the roadways. Early last week 12 people died as a result of two separate accidents in which speed was said to have been the main factor. This week we asked the man/woman-in-the-street to share their views on what measures they thought should be put in place to cut down on speeding on the country's roads. Their views follow:

Natasha Phang: "Placing mechanical devices to limit the speed of vehicles may be a good idea but it is not the way to go because it is a backward step in many ways. In addition, I do not think it would be very effective either unless we have policemen to monitor the use of the devices. What we need is an awareness of road safety among road users. This does not only mean drivers but pedestrians as well. We may put in many rules and requirements that drivers must undergo but once the policemen are not doing their job effectively all the good ideas will go to waste. We need to make people better road users even if this calls for training and retraining. We have to begin thinking seriously too about other ideas that could be implemented. "

Shameer - businessman: "One of the things that has to be done is to mechanically limit the speed of a vehicle so that the driver cannot accelerate beyond that speed limit. This might be disgusting but I think that in areas where there tends to be traffic congestion, humps should be placed. If needs be this should be backed by legislation. I can adjust and I think others will have to. However, none of the laws will be effective if the police traffic department is not given the resources to do its job. We need the law enforcement agencies beefed up and to be on patrols at peak hours if not 24 hours a day."

Adrian Austin - welder: "The government needs to pay more attention to the police force and in this case equipping the traffic department not only to deal with traffic but with other criminal activities. Police patrols are important. We need patrols on every highway and at various points along the way. This is because drivers, especially those of mini-buses, are using the highways to race and in most cases money is involved. I do not think speed control of vehicles would be the answer because we all know that if police are not there to patrol the roadways the drivers would do as they please. Not so long ago the police were using speed radar and now you are not seeing them. Why is this so? To boost the police force I think that they should start recruiting them when they are about to leave school."

Vincent Thomas - private sector employee: "Young people are the ones who are causing the accidents. It is not the older people. So I believe the President's suggestion is a good one. However, I think that our young drivers in particular and drivers of mini-buses need periodic training and retraining simply because of the manner in which many of them obtained their licences. One day they are conductors and the next day they become drivers. Some owners of mini-buses must take the blame for fatal accidents as well for the targets they set drivers and conductors. This means that the owner must get so much and whatever they make goes to them. This leads the mini-bus driver and conductor to speed and overload. Because of this I think owners of mini-buses must be penalised for offences too. If you notice owners of mini-buses who drive their own buses seldom get into an accident."

Yvonne Moses - private sector employee: "I think the answer is putting more traffic cops on the road. Mini-bus and hire car drivers tend to fear policemen on the road. Whenever a mini-bus driver sees a policeman on the road he tries to slow down and if the music is on loud he turns it down. While I agree with the President's suggestion I think that the commuter has an obligation to himself or herself to ask the driver to slow down if the speed is uncomfortable. Laws should also be in place to allow for civilians to report speeding. Provision should be made for drivers to attend road safety seminars. Probably those caught breaking the traffic rules should be made to attend the seminars which will include counselling. In general though the emphasis must be on the police. They have a lot of work to do."

Roger Gittens - private sector employee: "In years gone by there were checks put on vehicles so that they do not exceed a certain speed limit. This should be reintroduced. So that it must be a requirement vehicles must have to be road-worthy. My fear, however, is that the younger generation of drivers, particularly those of a certain calibre, will find a way to bypass this requirement. More than ever, however, the work of the law enforcement agency is critical to effectively enforce traffic laws. There is also need for police outposts especially in areas where it is known that drivers tend to speed and also at peak times. At one time there used to be checkpoints along the Linden/Soesdyke Highway and the Corentyne Coast. The only way to bring back law and order on the road is to bring back the check points and the police patrols on the country's highways."

Jane la Rose - pensioner: "Drinking and smoking dope send some drivers on a high causing them to speed and this causes accidents. To catch drivers who are inebriated we need to equip the police force with breathalysers. Other equipment is needed to detect speeding. Yes I agree with President Jagdeo's suggestion and I think that the traffic department is trying its best. However, as much as we talk about banning tints, installing mechanisms to curtail speeding, wearing helmets and removing boom boxes, the rules will not be very effective unless the police force is well-trained, well-staffed, well-equipped and well-paid so that they do not take bribes."

Patricia Phillips: "The President's idea is a good one and I think people in general will support actions he is likely to take in trying to ensure that the roads are safe to walk or to travel on. Yet I do not think the idea will go down well with many people because they will see it as an additional expense. Let us wait and see. What we need, however, is more police presence on the road."

Emryx Cox - miner: "This country needs two things to bring back some law and order on the roads. We need to update the laws with harsher penalties and strict law enforcement. Unless the laws are in place and enforced the carnage will continue. Such actions as checks on vehicles and testing to see if a person had been consuming alcohol are not infringing on people's rights. Snuffing out one's life is denying a person his right to live. I don't think that putting a speed limit on a vehicle will work because the mechanics will find a way around it. It all has to do with one's awareness. I think that many of those who buy their licences... [should] pass a series of tests at this stage. Even if they cannot write they should be able to express themselves well."

Desmond Ramchand - private sector employee: "The traffic laws must be more strict, the penalties for offences more harsh and the law enforcement agencies must be able to carry out their tasks. The problem of road accidents is a very serious one. The President's idea to use some mechanical device to curb speeding to a limit is not a bad idea at all. I welcome it. But will it be heeded if we do not have policemen to monitor the use of this device? Unless it is required as a part of a fitness test, I doubt that it will be used."

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