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Within the last three days this publication reported three road accidents that resulted in the death of four persons. Each year the situation seems to be getting worse. The accident rate in 2020 was higher than it was in 2019. The numbers in 2021 are already troublesome. No less than 55 persons have died this year from road accidents. This is too many for such a small country in population.
The roads are not racetracks nor are the vehicles racing cars or buses. The speed at which some drive on the road gives pause to whether they understand and appreciate that this public thoroughfare is for the use of the common good. Road courtesy is often cast aside and very often, notably with the commercial vehicles (minibuses, taxis, hire cars). There are drivers who are showing no regard for road etiquette and some of the private cars’ drivers are also mirroring similar behaviours.
It is basic etiquette to observe the traffic regulations and use of vehicles. These were learnt in the driving school and proof of knowledge demonstrated in the written and road tests before getting a license. These lessons are still valid every single day in the use of the road and should be practiced. Every traffic sign and symbol on the road is designed with the safety of the road user in mind, be that person pedestrian, cyclist, or motorist.
A young nation and small population like ours every life is important. Drivers who think they are invincible should remember the use of the roadway is not only for them but equally for others. They need not forget the trauma inflicted on their loved ones when there is damage to vehicles, injuries, loss of limbs or life.
It is recognised that commercial vehicles may feel the need to speed to meet the owners’ target for the day and or be able to make a little extra for themselves. While this hustle has become part of the minibus culture and understood, money must not come at the expense of safe use of the road and the lives of self and others.
Outside of speed and road rage there is the dangerous tendency to drink and drive. Drunk driving kills. Drinking impairs judgement. A driver whose judgment is impaired imperils not only his or her life but that of others. The presence of Traffic Officers serves as reinforcers of the traffic laws but there need not be that presence to obey, at all times, traffic rules and etiquette.
It is not a happy place to be when countries in their advisory reports are warning their citizens about the traffic situation in Guyana. For instance, the United States is warning Americans that “traffic enforcement is poor, police sporadically enforce local traffic laws, and local drivers often drive recklessly [and] drivers often ignore stop signs and traffic signals.” This is not the image Guyanese should want portrayed about them. The road must be used for a public good, including observing traffic rules and treating other road users with respect.