The recent US Embassy Overseas Security Advisory Council report on driving in Guyana is absolutely correct. Driving here is a nightmare. I try as much as possible to avoid the downtown core. In my recent (two weeks ago) letter to SN, I pointed out the problems with the East Bank and East Coast passageways due to business and improper parking on the sides of these passageways out of the capital (‘Where are we going? June 23). I cannot in all good conscience refer to these as highways. These are not highways. It doesn’t matter how many lanes this government creates on them. They will not be highways if simple proper administrative steps are not taken to ensure the use of these current passageways as highways.
To add to the report, I would say that:-
1. Most drivers below the age of 30 years old have not been properly trained. They basically obtained their licence by improper means. One clearly sees this in the way they generally drive. This includes (as stated in the report) tailgating, driving at high speeds in congested areas, improper overtaking, not observing stops signs, improper use of lanes and every other possible error.
2. The constant rush to meet the grim reaper is prevalent among the taxi drivers, again, especially if they are below the age of 30 years, as is abusing other considerate road users as though their (the taxi drivers’) way is the correct way of using the road.
3. The police test for alcohol consumption. Isn’t there a way to test for drug consumption? Could they not look at the dilation of the pupil of the eyes initially and then do a blood test? In observing the expression of some of these drivers, one clearly sees the glassy eyes – an indication of some form of being ‘high,’ most likely on drugs. The use of drugs is prevalent in our society.
4. As a local, for me, it is scary to drive. I feel that my life is in danger at all times on the road. I can’t imagine how a foreigner will feel. Basically no rules of the road exist any more.
5. The traffic lights work sporadically. The conversion of two-lane roads into three lanes at traffic lights because of the new traffic-light system creates a danger. It places the newly created third lane, designed to accommodate the traffic light turn signal, right in the path of oncoming traffic in most instances. What we need are just simple four-way stop signals to accommodate our narrow two-lane roads.
1. Remove businesses and schools from the main passageways to ensure their use as highways.
2. Remove beggars and mentally ill persons from the roads.
3. Remove stray dogs and other animals from the roads.
4. Charge pedestrians who do not use the pedestrian crossings.
5. Suspend anyone below the age of 30 from driving if they commit a traffic offence until they complete a driver’s training.
6. Institute computer based multiple choice tests for the theory part of the driver’s training. The system must have an audit feature to ensure records are not tampered with.
A lot of these problems are a result of our policy-makers’ focus being misguided. Their focus on building mansions instead of on affairs of state doesn’t help. It all seems so hopeless at times.