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Disrespect for our roadways

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Five persons have lost their lives on Monday in yet another horrific accident on Guyana’s roadways, as citizens continue to express outrage that calls for better usage of our roadways seems to be falling on deaf ears. Time and time again, this newspaper has expressed shock over the road carnage. We support Traffic Chief Mahendra Singh for reprimanding drivers for their reckless usage of the roadways when he said that Monday’s tragic loss of lives could have been avoided.
Singh said: “It is an unfortunate loss, and I think it is one that could have been prevented had drivers been responsible enough to recognise that it is not all about speed and to get people quickly where they want to go; they must recognise that they have a role to play to keep the passengers alive.”
There is no doubt that there is always an element of risk whenever someone uses the roadways, be it a motorist, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian. This is somewhat inherent, since it is believed that accidents will happen. In addition, disobedience of basic traffic etiquette and other rules exacerbate the risks.
Seemingly common now is the disrespect for designated major roads. Many drivers, including some within the public transportation system, refuse to adhere to what is mandatory. As a result, a number of accidents occur frequently at some of those points. Similarly, the practice of running red lights and the green signal that allows pedestrians to cross continues unabated, predominantly by minibus drivers. The danger this poses needs no explanation.
While there is a plethora of traffic violations on a daily basis, some appear more prominent. Undertaking, cutting in front of a vehicle, a minibus conductor sticking out an arm to do likewise from the other side seem to be the new norms of driving. Aside from the obvious danger, especially to young and inexperienced drivers; and beside being an irritant, it is blatant bullyism, and a potent source for road rage.
It appears that those who engage in such practices do not see themselves as being errant, or what they do as a traffic violation. Lanes that allow for turning-on-red are abused and used as if they are the right-of-way. Speeding is foremost, causing areas that are supposed to be free of minibuses to become dangerous.
Adding to the woes of those who abide by traffic rules is that they are verbally abused when trying to stave off a potential transgressor.
Only a few weeks ago, the business umbrella organization the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) blasted the Guyana Police Force (GPF) as well as the Government for its passive stance regarding the continued reckless use of the roadways, more specifically by truck drivers.
The GCCI had, at the time, said the ongoing misuse of the roadways by these trucks, coupled with the absence of effective management, monitoring, and enforcement by the Police Force, creates an alarming and unacceptable level of risk.
GCCI said, “We urgently call upon the Guyana Police Force and the Government to cease their passive stance and take immediate decisive actions to rectify this growing public hazard. It is imperative that measures are implemented to ensure compliance with road regulations and to safeguard the safety and security of all road users.”
While we commend the efforts of the Guyana Police Force in its road campaigns, what is desperately needed is a sustained national campaign to reduce traffic violations, and let the law take its course on the errant ones, regardless of who they are. The carelessness exhibited puts all road users at risk.
It must be noted that drivers are not the only violators of traffic rules, for some pedestrians are equally guilty. Aside from the common jaywalking, they cross busy intersections when not authorised, and refuse to use the overhead pedestrian walkways, thereby bringing danger to themselves and others. Like errant drivers, they seem empowered to not observe basic traffic rules. This will change only when there is a constant stream of violators making their way up the stairs of courts across the country. There is a hope that that is not wishful thinking.

The post Disrespect for our roadways appeared first on Guyana Times.

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