I would like to follow up on a letter published in SN on April 20, by Keron Adams, titled
Does the GPF have a section responsible for traffic lights?’ The letter writer is spot on in inquiring about the culture of road users in Guyana, which results in so many unnecessary accidents. It seems that Guyana no longer has road laws. For so much which is wrong and illegal in our country is now the daily norm on the part of numerous drivers, especially minibuses and taxis, who seem eternally in a hurry and break almost all traffic laws in their bid to get to their destination in the shortest possible time.
I think a lot of the blame for the breakdown in law and order on our roads has to be borne by the Guyana Police Force. They seem almost entirely focused on speeding and drunk driving without paying much attention to the numerous ‘smaller’ infringements which occur daily and which eventually give rise to irresponsible and irrational drivers on our roads.
Trying to curb speeding and drunk driving is much appreciated. But unless this happens in tandem with a clampdown on irresponsible driving, then very little is going to improve on our roadways. Simple acts of courtesy to fellow road users and adhering to the general laws of the road will go a very long way towards improving driving on our roads.
Some of the very basic laws which are being ignored/flouted on a daily basis include:-
1) refusal to stop at traffic lights;
2) stopping at junctions in turning lanes, thereby blocking other road users who wish to use the turning lane;
3) stopping in the middle of the road to chat with other drivers, oftentimes blocking the traffic behind;
4) double parking on roads resulting in blockage of the road without regard for other users.
Some of these infringements often occur in the presence of traffic officers who turn a blind eye to these offences, which further emboldens the offender to continue abusing the laws. This way a seemingly minor infringement eventually escalates into something major resulting in accidents or deaths.
Certainly some police officer in higher authority should realise by now that if a stringent effort or campaign is made to return law and order to our roads, then other ‘serious’ traffic offences will automatically be eliminated when the drivers start respecting the laws of the road and show courtesy to fellow road users.
A campaign should be started whereby traffic officers start tackling the ‘smaller’ traffic offences. They can start by positioning traffic police at road junctions. Any driver found breaking the law should face the consequences. If no law exists to deal with the infringement of minor traffic rules such as those listed above, then the police should find a way to temporarily detain the vehicle for a period of time. Maybe when the offender realises that his time (and money) is being impacted he may then make more effort to adhere to the laws of the road.
Likewise, we need more patrols and detention of vehicles found to be badly parked along our roadsides. Again, I can bet that if a clampdown is done on these irresponsible road users, errant drivers will tow the line in double quick time.
Finally, do government vehicles have some form of special right to flout the rules of the road? Many times I have observed highly tinted government SUVs speeding along our roadways and completely ignoring the laws of the road. If these vehicles have no special rights then they need to tow the line like the rest of us. For they are just as likely to create a road accident as we are if they do not follow the rules.
Hopefully someone in authority will have the gumption to tackle the biggest problems on our roads, which happens to be the flouting of the ‘smallest’ rules of our road.