Another child struck down on pedestrian crossing
- Acting Traffic Chief happy with proposed stiffer penalties for reckless drivers

Kaieteur News
February 18, 2007

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Acting Traffic Chief Neil Semple is pleased with the announcement that stiffer penalties would soon be implemented against traffic offenders, especially those who show blatant disregard for the traffic laws.

Superintendent Semple was speaking in the wake of a serious accident, in which 13-year-old schoolgirl Latchwantie Jainarine, of Better Hope, East Coast Demerara was dragged several yards by a Canter truck while crossing the road on a pedestrian crossing.

The incident occurred at around midday yesterday.

According to reports, Jainarine had just returned home from school and was sent out by her mother. It was while crossing the road that she was struck down by the speeding vehicle.

She was picked up in a critical condition and rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where she remains a patient in the High Dependency Unit. The driver of the Canter truck remains in custody.

The accident occurred on the same pedestrian crossing on which another schoolgirl, 13-year-old Trishanna Debidyal was killed by a speeding truck in December 2005.

Several persons were yesterday recalling that incident and renewed calls for stiffer penalties for those who show disregard for the pedestrian crossing rule.

In an invited comment, Superintendent Semple said that there is no excuse for motorists who violate the pedestrian crossing rule.

“When drivers are approaching the pedestrian crossing, the onus is on them to approach with caution, because there would be persons who would want to cross from either side, irrespective of day or night.

“Drivers have to behave like drivers; they have to show some sort of defensiveness, especially in built-up areas,” the Acting Traffic Chief told Kaieteur News.

He said that in other situations some drivers even try to overtake although they are approaching pedestrian crossings.

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee announced during last week's budget debate that increased penalties are on the cards for traffic offenders.

It was also announced that new applicants for drivers' licence will have to participate in at least four mandatory lectures even before they can take the written examination.

According to Superintendent Semple, there is no excuse for drivers not adhering to pedestrian crossings regardless of where they are placed.

“You've got to approach any pedestrian crossing with caution, due consideration must be the effort. Moreso, if you see persons waiting to cross at a pedestrian crossing, you have to stop and give them room to cross until they completely clear the crossing,” he said.

He told this newspaper that he is aware of the most recent incident which is being thoroughly investigated by the police.

A number of persons have expressed some concern that the particular crossing at Better Hope could be relocated, a view that is not shared by the acting Traffic Chief.

“Nothing is wrong with the crossing. The problem is with the drivers. Whether the road is twenty feet wide, the subject matter is the crossing. We teach a whole lot of stuff to new drivers but the whole background is that there are some drivers who just don't have any discipline.

“They know the right thing and they do the wrong thing. And that's why I'm happy that in our process now, they are hastening up to change the traffic laws, whereby there are going to be stiffer penalties, which will act as a complete deterrent to those drivers. So that when they want to commit these kinds of widespread breaches, especially when they see no police around, they must suffer the consequences whenever they are held,” the acting Traffic Chief said.