I hold the view that 90% of the road accidents in Guyana are avoidable. That means most injuries, road fatalities and property damage are avoidable, so why aren’t they be avoided? Personally, I am disgusted, ashamed and fed-up by excessive dangerous driving on Guyana’s roadways. From drivers operating Government marked and unmarked vehicles, to police officers driving recklessly and violating the very traffic laws they swore to uphold and are supposed to be upholding in broad daylight and civilian road users, all are consumed and all appear to be drinking from the same cup of confusion, disregard, ignorance and lack of accountability. How can we want to invite the world to do business in Guyana and we have one of the highest per capita traffic accidents and road use fatalities in the world? How can we as a people want to develop Guyana into a modern prosperous and safe state when we allow an abundance of recklessness (avoidable too) on our roads which often results in death, injury and damage to property on a daily basis?
I recall speaking with a young lady a few years back who told me that she had only recently learned to reverse. I asked her how long she had a driver’s licence, she told me she bought her licence four years ago. This is just a tiny part of the tragedy of selling driver’s licences; in another letter I will expand on this. The sale of driver’s licences is the leading cause of reckless road use, the frequent and high number of traffic accidents, injuries and road fatalities.
I’ve pondered this situation for several months, even working with a group of persons to form a road use safety advocacy group. We engaged several organisations, groups and individuals at public and closed door meetings including the National Road Safety Council and the Traffic Department of the Guyana Police Force. I have visited over 20 countries, have a driver’s licence in 3 of them and I have never seen the callous and reckless driving anywhere in the world like I see in Guyana; this is not to say such doesn’t exist. It is like traffic laws, the police force and even the Road Safety Council simply do not exist or that the frequency with which road use violations and traffic accidents occur have crippled all efforts to reduce violations, ensure drivers adhere to traffic laws irrespective of who they know in the police force, who they are politically connected to or how much money they have to bribe a culpable officer.
Based on my observation and reflections, the following are observable requirements for driving in Guyana:
1. Pay GY$60,000 or the equivalent of this amount for your driver’s licence without taking the road or “book test.”
2. If you prefer to take the “book test” and do not have GY$60,000 but you can afford GY$30,000, you can take the book test alone without taking the road test to acquire your licence. Whether you pass or fail the “book test” doesn’t matter, as long as you pay your money you will receive a licence.
3. Overtake whenever and wherever you want, legal or illegal. All you have to do is pay a bribe or call your police or political friend if an officer is trying to do his\her job by charging you for dangerous driving.
4. If you and another vehicle are approaching a narrow space, don’t worry stopping at a distance giving the oncoming vehicle enough space to pass. Just drive through at full speed, just like the other vehicle and when your mirror gets broken or there is another accident, get out and curse the other driver. Don’t worry that you didn’t stop either to give the driver enough space to pass and vice versa.
5. Drive through pedestrian crossings even if someone is walking across and another driver stopped with hazard lights on to allow the pedestrian to cross; it doesn’t matter the driver will speak to his police friend or political connection.
6. You do not have to know what a blind spot is. If you are driving and cannot see what is happening with vehicles in front the vehicle you are behind, or beyond whatever is blocking a clear view, drive with full speed, do not drive cautiously or else you risk being cursed by another driver.
7. If you are a social or regular drinker, marijuana smoker and\or drive under the influence of other drugs which impair your mental and physical capacities making you unfit to operate a motor vehicle, not a problem. If you do get stopped, just have something to give the police, money, promissory note or some other bribe.
8. Finally, if you are a bus driver, better yet. You can smoke, drink, assault passengers, put them out of the bus if they ask you to slow down or if they do not want to pay the fare you are demanding even though the fare is not the approved legal fare. You will not be required to do any physical fitness examination, no eye test nothing. In fact, anyone can be a bus driver regardless of any physical, mental or other disability which hinders your judgement and physical capacity while driving.
9. Finally, learn to drive through stop signs and red lights, or to stop halfway out from the stop sign into oncoming traffic to force your way because 99% of drivers refuse to stop for 5-10 seconds to allow the smooth flow of traffic. They rather cause an accident than to allow the smooth flow of traffic.
Welcome to Guyana, welcome to driving in Guyana.
Always tell someone how you feel because opportunities are lost in the blink of an eye but regret can last a lifetime. cricketwindies.com/forum/