Traffic law reform should reflect consultation exercise
February 4, 2002
I wish to congratulate you on the extent of coverage on the mini bus strike in the country over proposed new traffic regulations and to make a contribution on the issue for fellow readers.
Firstly I am in total agreement with the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Home Affairs that the traffic laws need to be changed to ensure better use of and safety on our roads. I sure hope that the proposed changes reflect the outcome of the consultation exercise that was carried out in various parts of the country.
In any event I am in agreement with the following: 1. Fines for speeding 2. Fines for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol 3. No amplified music in Public Transportation Vehicles 4. Fines for overloading of minibuses
To curb speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol mechanisms must be put in place. Fines are okay with me. I drive within the limits. We are fortunate that only fines and suspension of licenses are proposed. In New York they seize your vehicle for the latter offence.
I saw one minibus driver complaining in a TV interview that without music passengers will not travel. If no minibus has music passengers still have to travel, unless they all go down to the nearest auto dealers and get a car and place a Boom-box inside. So what's the argument? (editor's note: the regulation does not prevent music but the use of mechanisms to increase the volume, namely boom boxes).
Overload? If you do, you cause people to pay for discomfort as well as endanger their lives and violate insurance coverage.
With regard to the requirement for wearing seat belts (especially in minibuses and other public transport vehicles) I am not in total agreement. I say this after careful consideration of our roads, inconvenience to passengers, bus drivers etc.
In Guyana, canals and trenches etc are almost always alongside our roads. How do you get out quickly if your vehicle ends up in a canal or trench when you are strapped down? This seat belt requirement can pose a threat in emergencies. But if you take your time and drive within the speed limit and hope no fool maneuvers you into a canal the seat belt can save you from serious injuries in an accident.
I can understand if the minibus people have concerns of harassment by some traffic police. I know of some who will stop you every time you pass them and ask to see your documents. These are few and the entire traffic department should not be blamed for a few disgruntled policemen/ policewomen.
Yet it is something that the Guyana Police Force must deal with. Then again there will always be such cops in the world.