A total of 115 deaths were recorded in 2017 as a direct result of traffic accidents on the country’s roadways.
This is according to acting Commissioner of Police David Ramnarine, who presented the data during the Guyana Police Force (GPF) year-end review at Police Headquarters, Eve Leary yesterday.
Alluding to the 2016 launch of “Operation Safeway” in 2016, Ramnarine said there was great need for such a strategy since many were concerned about the growing number of vehicular accidents, particularly since there was a 33% increase in accidents and a 17% increase in deaths at that time.
Commenting on the figures for 2017, he noted that there were 100 fatal accidents recorded which resulted in 115 deaths; this he said was 17 accidents and 13 deaths fewer than what had been recorded in 2016.
It was also noted that out of the 9,640 drivers who were subjected to random breathalyser tests in 2017, 3,461 were found to be above the legal limit.
“Our analysis indicates that of the 115 deaths in 2017, 71 or 62% resulted from a combination of speeding, which resulted in 51 accidents; speeding and drunk driving, which accounted for 15 deaths and drunk driving alone, which caused five fatal accidents. Compared to 2016, there were 91 out of 128 deaths which were as a result of speeding, drunk driving and speeding with drunk driving,” Ramnarine explained.
Despite this, the acting Commissioner of Police noted that there is still much more work to be done.
“I maintain that in those 71 deaths in 2017… [are] what I call suicides because suicides is when someone of the age of discretion voluntarily or intentionally kills himself and I will not refrain and I will not retract this description, as rude and as hard as it may come across to be, that is the reality that we must accept,” he added.
Important to note also is that in 2017, 62 private motor cars were recorded to have been involved in fatal accidents against 78 in 2016, with the vulnerable age group remaining the same, that is, the 25 to 33 age group of drivers.
Based on trends reviewed by the GPF’s Traffic Department, the weekend period beginning from 6 pm on Friday evening to 6 am on Monday has been observed to be the most tragic, with 65 deaths or 57% of the 115 accidents in 2017 occurring during that time.
This, Ramnarine said, should not be taken to mean that the Traffic Department has been short on public awareness or enforcement since they have been very active in that area over the last year.
“Now, we have not been short on education. The Guyana Police Force’s Traffic Department has not sold itself short in 2017 when it comes to traffic education and enforcement. Though engineering is generally outside of our rigging, 185 lectures were done last year to schools across this country. Some schools benefitted twice. 29 youth groups across the country and four corporate entities with a total of 336 employees benefited from traffic awareness lectures,” Ramnarine said, before adding that they continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Ministry of Education, City Engineer’s Department, the Guyana Road Safety council and the local chapter of PHAO/WHO in this regard.
Nevertheless, he opined that drivers must be more responsible on the roadways in order to help to keep the accidents and fatalities at bay in 2018.
“What is very disturbing is that we are [a] too carefree and stubborn people regarding the use of our roads because even though we have laws for speeding, drunk driving, use of cell phone while driving, not wearing safety helmets and seat belts, the gross disregard for personal safety and that of others continues… We hope that in this year, that citizens will listen a little bit more and be a little bit more responsible in 2018,” he said.
In addressing concerns of members of the GPF being involved in accidents, Ramnarine explained that there were 23 accidents in 2017 involving this specific group, four of which resulted in fatal accidents.
Additionally, a total of 65 ranks had tint removed from their vehicles as part of the force’s anti-tint campaign.
Aside from that, the Traffic Department of the GPF saw an 83% decrease in accidents involving children on our roads, with the number moving from 12 in 2016 to 2 in 2017.
Ramnarine reiterated that while ‘Operation Safeway’ has seen progress, more needs to be done. This being said, efforts have been made to introduce additional human resources and other resources in the Traffic Department.