“Speak out against errant drivers” – Min. Ferguson

– World Day of Awareness for road traffic (accident) victims observed

DPI, Guyana, Monday, November 19, 2018

“Too many lives have been lost…. we as road users must use the roads more carefully,” plead Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson at the culmination of a march to honour the memory of traffic accident victims on Sunday.

Organized by the Guyana National Road Safety Council, in collaboration with the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Public Security, most of the participants were surviving family members of accident victims.

After marching from the Kitty roundabout to the Seawall bandstand brief messages were delivered by officials including the minister who described the event as “a significant but sad occasion.” She noted the need for more awareness campaigns targeting not only motorists but pedestrians.

Minister Ferguson added that “the government is indeed serious about road safety” as she highlighted ongoing efforts to ensure roads are properly marked, lit and equipped with sidewalks. She further urged passengers, especially those in minibuses to speak out against errant drivers, “the time has come for us to speak out.”

Guyana Road Safety Coordinator Ramona Doorgen said the aim internationally is to reduce road deaths by half the current amount of 1.2 million annually by 2020. On behalf of the Mothers in Black, Rosanna Debbi Dias noted that the pain always remains after the loss of a loved one and called on youths to be their brothers and sisters’, keepers.

PAHO/WHO Representative Dr. Paul Edwards explained that the event began in 1993 and after being ratified by the United Nations is now observed annually on the 3rd Sunday in November. He reflected on the “significant strain incurred due to traffic deaths in both families and communities,” pledging to provide technical support to improve road usage.

For Vice Chairman Region Four, Earl Lambert, the event highlighted the need, “on every occasion to try to prevent accidents.” The Traffic Chief Superintendent Linden Isles reminded that accidents are caused and don’t just happen. The time has come, he added, for all to make a concentrated effort to ensure proper road usage, highlighting 60 percent of accidents are caused by excessive speeding followed by Driving Under the Influence.

Head of GPHC’s Emergency Unit Dr. Tracy Bovell, citing first-hand experience, described traffic deaths as an epidemic of extraordinary proportions, noting that behind statistics are real people. It was highlighted that from January to October 2018 1,385 traffic accident victims were treated at GPHC with 77 percent of trauma deaths being male. She urged that safety precautions be taken such as the wearing of seatbelts and the use of helmets.

The rally culminated with an enactment of a traffic accident and the first aid demonstration by first responders. National Road Safety Week formally launches next Sunday with a 7am church service at the Eve Leary Officers’ Mess.

Paul McAdam.

Images: Kennyann Bacchus.