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Road deaths still climbing despite drop in traffic due to COVID-19, says Road Safety Council

by Samuel Sukhnandan

Despite a reduction road traffic across Guyana due to the more than two-month old COVID-restrictions on the movement of people and opening of businesses, a road safety non-governmental organisation is very worried that the number of road deaths has not decreased.

To date, Guyana has recorded 80 accidents, resulting in 84 deaths, among them six children, according to Coordinator of the National Road Safety Council Ms. Ramona Doorgen, who said the behaviour of some road users during the coronavirus lockdown is putting lives at risk.

In referring to the recent climb in fatal accidents, Ms. Doorgen told News Talk Radio 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online that this corresponds with the figure between January to October 2019, where 84 persons, among them six children, were killed in road accidents, leaving out the last two months of the year. In 2018, a total of 92 road fatalities were recorded from 79 accidents.  Of that number 37  involved motorcycles, Traffic Chief Linden Isles said Monday.

“So, to tell me that we already have 84 deaths and it’s only July, that is a major cause for worry. And this is happening at a time when we are experiencing COVID-19. And look at it, Guyanese are losing their lives to accidents more than the pandemic,” she remarked. Up to  Monday (July 27,2020), the Public Health Ministry said 20 persons died from COVID-19.

Ms. Doorgen explained too that when the accident figures were just over 70, 50 percent of the victims were males between the ages of 20-40 years old, who were mainly motorcyclists. This, according to her, is of major concern and speaks to the need for persons to take “personal responsibility” for the way they use the roadways, especially motorcyclists.

The road safety official said she is even more worried that as restrictions continue to ease, that there could be a rise in collisions which may result in fatalities. “We need people to take care on the roads. Lockdown measures have eased and we will see traffic increasing, so it’s even more imperative that people drive in a safe and considerate manner.”

With increased policing and continued education awareness campaigns, Doorgen said it is hoped that this could lend to a reduction of these incidents. She reminded that adherence to traffic laws is important, while emphasizing that many drivers continue to breach established speed limits across the country.

The Guyana Police Force has said that the leading causes of traffic mishaps in the country, are speeding and driving while under the influence of alcohol. Other major causes are driving while distracted by use of a cell phone, pedestrian inattentiveness, and failure to heed traffic signs and warnings.