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Road deaths grossed 1, 377 during the deadly decade of disorder known as the ‘Troubles’ between 2001-2011. Among those killed on the roads were 199 children and 568 pedestrians. Over the past 30 months, 328 persons have been killed, most victims being between the ages of 20 and 35.
Former President David Granger, appearing on his weekly programme – the Public Interest – lamented the loss of lives which placed Guyana 94th in the world with 17.3 road deaths per 100,000 of the population (according to World Health Organisation), a record worse than the United States of America’s
Mr. Granger pointed out that most accident victims are low-income pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists, not richer drivers and vehicle owners. Most coastal roadways are old public roads connecting villages and were never designed or engineered to be modern highways. Old practices persist. Pedestrians are still forced to compete for space with animal-drawn carts, bicycles, commercial vehicles, mini-buses, motor cars, motorcycles, free-range livestock, stray dogs and vendors’ stalls.
Lives could be saved if the thousand-member Police Traffic Department ensured that animals, derelict vehicles and debris are removed and newly-repaired or resurfaced roads with pavements and pedestrian crossings are clearly demarcated, Mr. Granger said.
Mr. Granger criticised the rapid turnover of traffic chiefs who do not serve long enough to gain experience and do not receive high-level, specialized education in traffic management. Given the influx of about 100,000 vehicles in five years (Inter American Development Bank) and the extension of roadways into new housing settlements, traffic management has been strained.
Annual campaigns such as Operation Safe Road; Operation Safeway and Operation White Knight have been short-lived. They have not been supported by engineering solutions aimed at human safety and new enforcement methods that eliminate bad practices such as driving at excessive speeds, driving while drunk, driving on unmarked roads and driving defective vehicles.
The former President is convinced that intelligent improvements such as intensive public education, effective law enforcement and innovative road engineering could improve road safety and reduce deaths.