‘Observatory' to monitor road fatalities - Rohee
Kaieteur News
November 25, 2006

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The Ministry of Home Affairs, in collaboration with the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Ministry of Health, has established an ‘observatory' to closely monitor and analyse the risk factors and causes of motor vehicle accidents which result in injury and death.

Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee made these remarks in a statement to mark the observance of National Road Safety Week, which begins on November 26.

He said that a significant number of road accidents are caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or prohibited drugs, speeding, and poor safety measures. They are made worse in cases where persons do not wear seat belts or helmets.

“Out of 142 fatal accidents in 2005, 157 lives have been lost. The full impact of this level of loss is perhaps made clearer when we look at it in a global context. It represents a death ratio of 20.9 persons per 100,000, which is amongst the highest in the world,” Minister Rohee said.

In 2006, a reduction of 13 deaths per 100,000 has been recorded so far. However, the rate of death for children has increased from 17 of the 157 deaths in 2005, to 18 of the 102 deaths this year. “Expressed as a percentage of the actual deaths, this represents an increase from 10.8 percent to 17.6 percent of the fatalities,” the Minister said.

Under the Citizens' Security Programme, the GPF is developing a strategy, as part of a comprehensive traffic management plan, aimed at reducing the loss of life on the roadways.

The GPF is also organising a programme geared towards sensitising the public through training and educational programmes on road safety, which will place emphasis on young men and children.

Fifty-nine percent of traffic homicides for the first 10 months in 2006 were between the ages of 15 and 49. Of these persons, 64 percent were male.

The Minister said that while it is important to target drivers and other motorists, parents also have a critical role to play since, “…they are important role models for their children, and can inculcate safe behaviour through example.”

While acknowledging that there is no blueprint for road safety, Minister Rohee said a wide range of effective interventions exists, and experiences from other countries have shown that a scientific systems approach to road safety is essential to tackling the problem.

“This approach addresses the traffic system as a whole, and looks at the interactions between vehicles, road users, and the road infrastructure, to identify solutions,” he said.

Improving road safety demands a multi-sectoral, multi-disciplined approach involving the public sector, non-governmental organisations, and special interest groups, such as minibus and hire car associations, parents, professionals, the media, citizens, and the police.

With new legislation, sustained campaigns by the Traffic Department, and the cooperation of civil society along with entities such as the National Road Safety Council, Traffic Chief Roland Alleyne is optimistic that more order and lawful behaviour will prevail on the road.