The deaths, disabilities and injuries and damage to property caused by accidents on our roads are deeply distressing.
I extend the sympathy of my Cabinet and Government to the relatives, families and friends of those who have been killed or injured as a result of road accidents. I wish the survivors a speedy recovery.
Road accidents represent a threat to human safety. Every accident is one too many; every death is too great a loss that our country cannot afford. The record is grave:
Young persons between the ages of 16 and 42 years comprised more than three out of every five fatalities.
Twenty-one persons, including three children, died as a result of 15 road accidents in November.
One hundred and fourteen persons, nine of whom were children, were killed in ninety-seven road accidents this year.
This insane increase in road fatalities has been caused, mainly, by persons driving at excessive speeds; driving under the influence of alcohol; driving without due care and attention (or inattentiveness) and driving on roads which are congested or unsafe for other road users, particularly pedestrians, thirty of whom were killed.
I had proposed a three-point approach to road safety in my address at the launch of Road Safety Month, on the 4th November 2015. The three-point approach involved:
– more stringent enforcement of our traffic laws including those proscribing driving under the influence of alcohol, playing distracting music and the use of cellular phones while driving; stricter enforcement will help to promote greater safety on the roads; regular and rigorous patrols of notorious, high-risk zones must be conducted during daylight and at night; speed limits and limitations on the lawful complement of cargo and passengers by commercial and public transportation vehicles, must be established;
– greater road safety education through a systematic and sustained countrywide campaign must be conducted; the drivers’ licensing process must be strengthened to ensure that only competent and responsible persons are certified to drive vehicles, especially passenger vehicles, on roadways; passengers, themselves, have a primary interest in their own safety and should ensure that the vehicles in which they are travelling are not overloaded, speeding or playing excessively loud music; and
– improved engineering solutions to ensure safer roadways, many of which were never intended to be highways or public roads; some must be “re-engineered” for safety by clearer signage and markings, including conspicuous pedestrian ‘zebra’ crossings and lane lines which must be visible on all roads; sidewalks, pavements and overpasses, where possible, must be installed to ensure pedestrian safety; no-parking zones and bus stops must be marked; traffic signals should be maintained in working condition and traffic policemen must be deployed at high-risk zones to deter lawlessness and direct the safe flow of traffic on urban and rural roadways during peak hours and, particularly, during the most deadly days and nights – Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
I urge all road-users to observe the Guyana Police Force’s code of behaviour – care, caution, consideration, common sense and courtesy – as they drive on our roadways.
I am confident that the Government, Police Force, non-governmental organisations – such as Regional Road Safety Associations – and civil society could combine their efforts to make road use safe for everyone.