In the aftermath of the recent horrendous and seemingly unprecedented number of fatal road accidents that occurred within a fairly short period of time, the consequences have attracted national attention.
Many families are now left trying to cope with the loss of loved ones. Even the Head of State felt compelled to make a public statement over the dire situation, but before he lamented his distress, Guyanese across the country found common ground to condemn and empathize.
The sudden and shocking death of someone close, especially due to an accident, can never be easy. The ensuing excruciating pain and mental trauma that are inflicted on surviving relatives can be unbearable. In a fleeting moment, families were plunged into sadness and despair, having received the dreadful news that an accident had taken the life of someone dear to them.
That’s the painful result; and often, its real and lingering impact may be hidden from the spotlight of the media. The reality is that people, including those who survive an accident, suffer in unimaginable ways. The recent spate of accidents even prompted some to ask the question: How many more? One interpretation from that simple question speaks to whether lessons are being learnt from accidents over time. In other words, how many more have to die before better care is taken while using the roadways?
Given what has taken place over the past few weeks, one could not be faulted for concluding that the results of the accidents may not have inspired a more responsible behaviour. However, judging from sentiments expressed on social media, it appears that more cognizance has seemingly being brought to the mindsets of many.
While that is extremely heartening, there is uncertainty as to whether the mindsets of the regular errant drivers have been impacted, or whether they have learnt anything from what were obviously painful experiences of others. Judging from what continues to take place on the roadways, it seems clear that many drivers haven’t learnt, or are clearly refusing to even be bothered by the harrowing fatal accidents.
On a daily basis, many drivers use the roadways in a very reckless manner, thereby endangering occupants of vehicles and other road users; the least, themselves. It becomes painful even to see how they manoeuvre their vehicles, seemingly without an iota of care for others.
Again, it brings into question the role of law enforcement to try and curb such irresponsible behaviour, especially since some traffic violations do occur in the presence of Police.
Even if the Police were to offer an excuse, inexcusable as it may be, there is none that can be offered for not using the public CCTV cameras to take action against the errant drivers. Many of these cameras are strategically placed at some intersections where traffic lights are mounted and in other areas.
Very often, persons generally using the cameras from their cell phones would snap and post a picture of a traffic violation. Many of those violations involve a minibus. It begs another question: If members of the public can take the time and effort to highlight daily traffic violations, and from which the Police sometimes intervene, why can’t the Police themselves use the CCTV cameras in a sustained effort to make defaulters face the law? Millions of taxpayers’ dollars were used to procure and mount those cameras, therefore their value must be of benefit to the public.
The general public is hurting and is pleading for help. A twelve-year-old schoolgirl was killed in the horrifying accident just over a week ago at Nimses, West Bank Demerara. Despite the emotional devastation, her mother made a public appeal to passengers to demand being let out of a minibus because it is speeding, or the driver is imbibing alcoholic beverage.
If, in her time of extreme grief, she can use her painful experience to warn others, why then can’t the CCTV cameras be used for the purpose alluded to? How many more must suffer before the Police announce sustained usage of the CCTV cameras to combat the recklessness on the roads?
That seems a fair question in the context of not only what transpired over the past few weeks, but over time. In addition, the suggestion that undercover cops should pose as passengers is repeated. That would help to authenticate, if nothing else is working, violations of speeding, reckless driving, and overloading, among other transgressions.
A public Police WhatsApp account intended to receive pictures and videos of traffic violations captured by members of the public would also help. Importantly, the Police must holistically demonstrate that sense of commitment to genuinely collaborate with members of the public to collectively tackle the situation.
This becomes even more necessary given that, generally, the Police’s image in clamping down on errant drivers is not very flattering, especially since many are believed to own minibuses and taxis.
The pain people feel is real and crushing. The question of “how many” is therefore relevant, and the cries for mitigating actions must no longer fall on seemingly deaf ears.