Fast-tracking traffic laws What The People Say About...
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
January 21, 2002

Government is to fast-track legislation making provision for the compulsory use of seat belts when travelling. It is also to speed up regulations regarding police use of radar guns to track the speed of vehicles and breathalyzers to detect drivers who are driving under the influence of alcohol; boom-boom boxes in mini-buses would also be outlawed. The man/woman-in-the-street comment on the issue:

Adrian Wilson - builder: 'The fast-tracking of the bill to take care of some immediate concerns on the road is a smart move. Drinking and driving, loud music and the boom-boom boxes are a distraction to drivers and conductors. The introduction of the breathalyzers in a court of law and the use of seat belts will all lead to minimising accidents. However, there would be need for sustained enforcement otherwise making laws would make no sense. We are behind the times in making seat belts compulsory. There is also need for provision of seating chairs for babies.'

Kenneth Persaud - teacher: 'We really do need the legislation and law enforcement for safe travel. It should go a far way to changing the attitude of reckless drivers. I don't think that the laws would encourage more bribery. You're never going to get policemen or anybody in other professions not to accept something being offered to you, and something enticing as well. The problem will come if the policeman asks for a raise. But I do believe that the public should allow the police to do their work. Too often we tend to blame them when in fact, we as citizens need to play our part. The laws are long in coming. Two years ago there was an accident at Ogle involving some children from Cummings Lodge. I was teaching there but I was also out of the country at the time but that accident has still left me shaken. When lives such as the four on the East Bank Essequibo are lost the country loses and the families never really recover. I'm in sympathy with the Mothers in Black on their losses and their efforts at trying to get government to bring legislation in place that would make the roads safer. I don't even mind joining them.'

Pat: 'I think it is a very good idea to speed up the process in these areas but this does not mean that the reform of the entire traffic laws should be held back. There are other areas of concern. Generally persons in the administration responsible for getting things done tend to procrastinate on things that need immediate attention. Due to this lackadaisical attitude many lives have been lost. It had to take the death of four from our valuable young human resources to get government to act on this aspect of the traffic laws. The compulsory use of seat belts is a good idea. In minibuses in particular I think it would help to eliminate overcrowding.'

Anne Marie Elston - rock singer: 'The proposed new traffic laws and the penalties, when they come into effect, will cause drivers to think twice. It is the one piece of legislation I would welcome quickly. However, there would be need for enforcement. I tend to support the Mothers in Black for their tireless effort in trying to get government to hasten the reform of the traffic laws. Nothing can replace their losses. I particularly would welcome the compulsory use of seat belts because of the sense of security they would offer. I myself was in two accidents. In one of them I was sitting in the back seat of a minibus and I flew right out of the rear window and landed on the ground. I injured my back. Provision must be made too for children. I have a son and it bothers me when I am travelling to the city from Mahaicony. You never know what is around the corner.'

Wazeir Ally - missionary: 'I would welcome the new laws. Too many drivers in general are drinking and driving. Minibus drivers and conductors on who the travelling public depend to get from one place to the next tend to get even higher and distracted when they play their music loudly and drink and drive. Not a good mixture at all. The introduction of the new laws would call for rigid reinforcing and I would hope it wouldn't be one of those pieces of legislation enacted and nothing is done about it. There are many other areas in the traffic laws that need updating, such as licensing. Today any and everybody can drive a minibus. It would appear that it calls for no experience.'

Mark Gomes - electrical contractor: 'These laws and more should have come into being a long time ago. Look how long ago many other countries introduced these laws. New vehicles with seat belts are coming into the country and people don't use them. Provision should be made for children under a certain age as well. But the problem would be one of law enforcement. Look at littering, for example. Government should be earning much revenue from all of littering but what is happening? People are continuing to throw their litter out of the windows of moving vehicles and dumping their garbage at the side of the roads. It is nice to pass laws but where is the law enforcement arm. I just [Saturday morning] drove down Regent Street and I did not see one policeman. I'm sure if I got to LBI on the East Coast now, I would not see any. The problem of law enforcement is not only putting policemen on the road but also getting them into the profession and paying them well to do the job. If not all these new laws would in effect be only opening new avenues for policemen to take bribes.'

Cephas Harris - supervisor: 'I agree with the use of seat belts. This I hope includes children safety belts. While government is fast tracking legislation to cover these key areas probably they should also fast track other areas because we still have minibus and hire car drivers who obtain licences to operate cars and minibuses for commercial purposes and it is obvious that they are not qualified to drive. The introduction of legislation to make use of seat belts is long overdue. So many accidents you hear of people flying through windows and windscreen. I agree with Mothers in Black that there is urgent need for reformed traffic laws and I hope that the introduction of this piecemeal bit of legislation does not mean that it will take another year or two to get the complete traffic laws revamped. Pass these yes but hasten the whole process.'

Deodat Imrit - carpenter/joiner: 'I would welcome the passing of the bill. There are too many accidents and too many lives lost and injuries. So long the boom-boom box campaign has been going on with little effect. It is time laws and stiffer penalties are enforced. Many people are making a fuss about the seat belts but too many people fly through the windows and end up dead. It took a long time in coming but better late than never.'

Ryan Rickford - banker: 'The piece of legislation making provision for the compulsory use of seat belts, breathalyzers, radar guns and the banning of boom-boom boxes should be fast-tracked because of the lawlessness on the roads. However, there is need for the revamping of the entire traffic laws and to bring them to parliament as soon as possible. There are some drivers who don't seem to know what being courteous means. There is also need for law enforcement. I always thought that drivers of minibuses and hire cars had to have had some years of experience before they could obtain their licences. When did the 22-year old driver involved in the East Bank Essequibo accident get the experience to be carrying 15 people?'

Kevin - student: 'That was a decision that should have been taken a long time ago. You see what is happening today. As a student I would not lie, it is true that we like to hear good music to enjoy the ride. But the problem is that music and alcohol don't really go well. This is where we need more policemen on the road and the use of the breathalyzers should be more effective. The introduction of the seat belts should also reduce the doubling up that takes place in the minibuses.'

Janel Mitchell - student: 'While I agree that the bill should be fast-tracked I think there are others areas that need addressing urgently as well. One of them must deal with licensing. We have too many young minibus drivers. Laws must be put in place urgently to deal with those other areas, too.'