Reducing traffic accidents

What the people say about
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
December 13, 1999

In view of the number of fatal accidents the country has experienced in recent months we asked several drivers and commuters to share their view on the causes of the accidents and what should be done to reduce them. Their comments follow:

David - East Coast Demerara mini-bus driver: `There are too many young mini-bus drivers on the East Coast Demerara road, too many conductors turn drivers. To them everything is a hustle. Apart from hustling on the park they hustle on the road to get ahead for the one passenger. I think that before the police issue mini-bus licences mini-bus drivers should have at least five years driving a hire car. These young drivers not only imperil their lives and their passengers but the lives of experienced drivers who are trying to be careful as well.'

Allison Stoby - University of Guyana student: `I am fairly satisfied with the drivers of the UG/Georgetown route. I think the drivers on that route are fairly reasonable but there are one or two odd ones who when they get on the Liliendaal stretch just want to fly. These are the times we have to remind them to slow down. There is no problem with music on that route but the loud noise on some buses in the city is outrageous. While the problem is mainly with the young drivers being reckless there are many old ones who are just as reckless. The new buses to me are the ones to fear because of the speed and the music that goes with them to me. Because the old buses do not have the capacity to speed they are arguably the safer ones on the road right now.'

Dyan Ross - Linden/Georgetown mini-bus driver: `The reason for Sparta Global Enterprise coming into being is to ensure commuters travel in relative comfort and safety. More so because of the few ill-fated accidents we have had on the Linden/Soesdyke Highway. We of this bus service do not exceed the 96-kilometre speed limit. Some may say that we are slow but as soon as we arrive at the Linden park we fill up and depart as soon as the bus is filled. On the highway, other buses go whizzing past very close to our buses, that, too is unsafe. As an old driver I would advise drivers to monitor themselves especially those young and inexperienced. Heed the passengers, they may feel imperilled. Most times in accidents drivers escape with their lives. We play music but moderately so that passengers could speak to each other instead of shouting.'

Merlene Johnson - nurse: `I am returning to Mahdia where I am stationed. On my first journey on the Mahdia/Georgetown route I was very tense because I was not certain about the drivers and I am afraid of speeding as well. But I gained some confidence after the driver drove at a reasonable rate. Generally I think that the drivers on this route try to be careful because of the distance and they are aware that they have people's lives in their hands. I think the speeding and loud music I have experienced was in the city.'

Ramana Ramkissoon - West Demerara driver: `Everybody knows that speeding and loud music are the main causes of accidents on the country's roads. I have been driving for over 25 years now and many drivers are not even 25 years old. We have drivers who one day are conductors and the following day are driving mini-buses. They are all over the West Coast Demerara and other places too. The police must ensure that before they issue hire car licences to drivers they have a certain amount of experience in driving. They then must fulfil the two years as hire car drivers before they get a mini-bus licence. These young drivers are the ones who are putting pressure on us older drivers. In addition the police have contributed to the problems we have on the road today. They have created the monster. They issue the licences for a price of course and because of all the carnage they are now harassing all mini-bus drivers. Yet those same inexperienced ones are still paying off the police.'

Kenneth Scott - Mahdia/Georgetown mini-bus driver: `I think one of the main problems in this mini-bus business is the use of used-tyres. Drivers and owners should ensure that they are not using used tyres especially on the highways or on laterite roads. The highways tend to encourage the driver to speed. To Mahdia I travel at a speed of 100 km per hour. Going at a slower rate tends to make a driver fall asleep at the wheels. However, it is safer to arrive in six and a half hours to seven hours than to get there in five as some are trying to do. There are many blind corners and passengers have the right to tell drivers to slow down. Drivers must have self-discipline. Some tend to go over the limit especially on the highway. Another problem is that we have too many inexperienced drivers on the road and this is because many have not gone to driving school. The majority of them drive wild trying to impress whoever. If they go by the rules we would have less accidents.'

Michael Ally - self-employed: `Right about now we have cause to talk to mini-bus drivers and conductors on the East Bank/Timehri route because they tend to play their music loud and to speed as well. I travel two or three times each week and I have to choose which buses I travel with. Sometimes the noise is too much in some buses and then you cannot hear if there is a puncture or if there are other problems. Because of the noise, too, sometimes the buses fly past where you live. Especially when the road is clear they go at about 140 km to 160 km per hour. It is not good for the heart. They way they overtake each other sometimes is so scary. I am pleading to drivers to consider the feelings of passengers.'

Walter Harris - Linden/Georgetown mini-bus driver: `I find that Linden mini-bus drivers have eased on speeding since the last accident at Bamia on the Linden Highway which claimed six lives. I find that Linden drivers are much more moderate now. If we find someone driving hard we tend to shout them down and ask them to ease down. Some of us talk to them too. Most of the young drivers need more self-control too. Most of those who get into accidents are youths. They did not go through the process of being qualified to drive mini-buses on the road. The other problem on the highway is the timber trucks. They should only be allowed to travel on the highway during certain daylight hours. Sometimes they are on the road in the night time without reflectors or parking lights and with long lumber sticking out of the trailer. Then you only know they are on the road when you are actually up under them. Mini-buses should also not use used tyres. They are a threat.'

Gabar Singh - UG/Industry/Georgetown mini-bus driver: `Most accidents are caused by speeding and this is mainly caused by young and inexperienced drivers. If the police or you yourself is to investigate you will find it very interesting to know how these young drivers obtained their licences. Instead of giving them a licence to drive a mini-bus after two years driving hire cars they should have at least five years. I am happy to say, and I keep my fingers crossed, that we have never had a fatal accident on this UG/Industry route since the service came into being.'

Malik Shabaz - commuter: `Speeding has eased up tremendously on the Linden Highway since the big accident on the Linden highway. I think that the Linden drivers are aware of what has been taking place and are being more cautious. Vehicles are made with speed and that is what is encouraging them, especially the younger drivers to speed. It is unfortunate, however, that most times the driver in the wrong survives the accident while the driver driving in the right most times perish. One fortunate thing is that the Linden mini-buses no not have the boom boxes. Anyway I like music especially on long journeys. Whenever I travel I say a prayer and put my hands in the Almighty.'

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