Mandatory prison sentence for reckless driving To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
January 26, 2002

In support of Mr. Berkeley Van Bowen's letter concerning the restrictions on under 25-year-old drivers for mini-buses. I agree with his arguments about the "economic fall out of such a policy".

Guyana's economy does not provide a variety of jobs for both high school and non-high school graduates. Most bus drivers are so employed because of economic circumstances. It is the only job available for some. To place a limitation on that employment based only on age is discriminatory. There should not be an age discrimination law. How many well-meaning young men,

who have had no accidents, will be displaced? This "knee jerk" reaction will force many young men to a life of crime. It is the responsibility of the government to create the atmosphere for economic growth, thereby providing the opportunity for employment. Where are the alternative jobs for those that will be displaced?

First you tell the government to place a Ban that will be restrictive based on age, saying no Mini Bus driving if you are under twenty five, then there is a mandatory retirement age of 55 years. This short working life forces many to be unable to support their offspring from birth through college. How many years will an individual work? How much income would have been earned between 25 years and 55 years in Guyana's economy? How much savings would accrue for the individual to live comfortably in his/her golden years? Where are the
guarantees that upon turning 25 years of age a job will be available for the unemployed Mini Bus driver? Take a closer look at the high-school drop out rate and you will see that the job market is non-existent for high school graduates and more so for dropouts.

Guyana does not currently have a national apprentice-ship programme whereby, the young may be trained in a needed skill. Even if such a programme is to exist there are no jobs available except in the sales sector. Why then engage in an effort, or enact a law, that will increase unemployment.

Such law serves to put many idle hands on the streets. Eventually the

government will be burdened with the increase in expenditures of supporting those with this shortened working life.

Instead of such a policy, there should be a more severe or fixed penalty for reckless driving. There should be more police patrolling the roads and giving out speeding tickets. The government should not indirectly create the atmosphere of depression then incarcerate those that seek the illegal avenue for survival.

If such a decision is made and then subject to judicial scrutiny, we will
find that the under 25 drivers will be vindicated. What is being over-looked is the fact that young men and women under twenty five are usually called upon to fight and die for their country. There are many police and soldiers in Guyana who are under twenty-five and are dependable drivers. Would you exclude them from driving a mini-bus in case of emergency? Would Guyana call on the under twenty five to serve in the armed forces if the need arises, when they are forbidden from earning a living in their chosen field?

To Ban fewer than twenty-five drivers is not the answer, instead there should be more careful screening of license applications. There should be mandatory prison sentence for reckless driving that results in fatality. There should be license revocation for speeding that results in injury. There should be a judicial application of financial obligation imposed on the perpetrators of speeding that results in injury. That obligation should be in effect during the working life of those convicted.

There are numerous other stringent applications of the law that will
restrict speeding. However, to Ban someone from driving a Mini-Bus only because he or she is under twenty-five is arbitrary, capricious and illegal.
Patrick Barker