2003 fatalities surpass last year's 157
--- Traffic Chief reiterates accident reduction appeal by Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
December 31, 2003

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A land cruiser which crashed into a lamp post at the corner of Middleton and Campbell Avenue, breaking it at the base and plunging the entire block into darkness on June 5 last.

THE number of fatal accidents in Guyana is fast spinning out of control, prompting the Police Traffic Department to make a special appeal to all road users - drivers in particular - to be more careful when using the roads, in an effort to reduce the number of accidents taking place.

During 2003 there were 156 fatal accidents, with 168 lives being lost on the nation's roads, compared to 132 fatal accidents in 2002, resulting in the loss of 157 lives.

Overall the road fatality figure for 2003 was 11 more than in 2002. Of this amount 25 were children whose lives were rudely snuffed out in 2003, and 17 in 2002, never being given the opportunity to live on and maximize their God-given potentials.

The unchecked carnage on the nations roads has led Police Traffic Officer, Superintendent Michael Harlequin to make a plea to motorists, who were responsible for the majority of these accidents, to "use more of their brain matter" and be more careful when using the roads.

He said that police records showed that pedestrians were the most affected, with 71 being killed in 2003 and 58 in 2002. Likewise, both categories of cyclists suffered severely. In 2003, 32 pedal cyclists were killed on the roads, compared to 27 in 2002. In the category of motor cyclists, 18 perished in 2003 compared to 14 in 2002.

Noting that many of these accidents could have been avoided, Harlequin said that speeding was the number one demon, responsible for the loss of lives on the roads. This was followed by persons driving under the influence of alcohol; inattentiveness on the part of both motorists and pedestrians.

The Traffic Officer, taking a firm stand against what he referred to as 'carelessness' on the roads, reiterated the ongoing call of his Department for motorists and cyclists to be on the look out for children who are known to act impulsively when on the roads.

He blasted parents and other elders into whose care children were entrusted, for being inattentive while disembarking from vehicles with them, or having them cross the roads. Harlequin also condemned the practice whereby parents suddenly emerge from behind parked vehicles with little children, invariably ending up in the path of on coming vehicles. This, he said, has been responsible for death and injury to many children from time to time.

And commenting on the need for stricter adherence to the five-Cs of Road Safety: Courtesy, Care, Caution, Consideration and Commonsense, the Traffic Officer stressed the need for motorists to extend more courtesy among themselves, as well as to other categories of road users - pedestrians, cyclists, horse drawn carts, considered vulnerable road users.

Asked about the malfunctioning of traffic lights, and how these contribute to accidents on the roads, the Traffic Officer admitted that , the lights being very old sometimes malfunction. He however, said that plans are in the pipeline for the acquisition of new traffic lights in the new year 2004.

The officer , while admitting that wear and tear would have taken its toll on the lights, blamed the deterioration and ultimate malfunctioning of these, to a great extent, on the unstable electrical power flow offered by the Guyana Power and Light Company.

That apart, the Guyana Police Force continues to do its best in terms of servicing and repairing the lamps.

Malfunctioning of traffic lights at major intersections such as Mandela Avenue and Homestretch Avenue (outside the National Cultural Centre); Home Stretch Avenue and Vlissengen Road (outside the Office of the President) and Mandela Avenue and Middleton Street (Canpbellville) have been known to cause serious road accidents.

Such development, the Force has attributed to the unstable power flow from time to time.