Using a vehicle as a dangerous weapon

first_imgWith the continuing carnage being witnessed on Guyana’s thoroughfares, the Traffic Chief on Monday released startling statistics on road accidents. With a small population of just under 750,000, Guyana has recoded 92 deaths on the roadways so far for 2017.While this figure represents a 16 per cent decrease in road deaths when compared with the corresponding period last year, this is still a shocking figure, and as stated by the traffic chief, is unacceptable.According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road traffic injuries are a major public health problem and a leading cause of death and injury around the world. Each year, nearly 1.2 million people die, and millions more are injured or disabled as a result of road crashes.Giving a local analysis, Traffic Chief Dion Moore has since said that driving under the influence of alcohol and speeding have been the two major causes of road accidents in Guyana.According to the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, Capt 51:02, drivers who on the first occasion are caught driving under the influence are fined ,500; the second time the person is fined and their licence is suspended for a year; and on the third occasion, the person can be jailed, or their licence suspended indefinitely. While the law is clear on the issue, it has not deterred those who make a conscious decision to drink/use drugs and drive, thus breaking the law. This has led to many, including the Guyana National Road Safety Council, calling for the imposition of stricter penalties for drivers who are charged DUI.The decision to drink/use drugs and drive starts with the individual, and more often than not that decision is made while all faculties are still functioning consciously. It therefore means that persons consciously make a reckless decision to use a motor vehicle as a dangerous weapon.To curb this behaviour, there is need for the strongest possible public policy approaches; and in the case of Guyana, consideration should be given for an amendment to the law for tougher penalties. Drunk driving is literally a life-and-death issue that also needs effective prevention and enforcement activities.One such laudable enforcement activity is the “White Knight” campaign, expected to be executed countrywide. The White Knight campaign is a collaborative effort of the Guyana National Road Safety Council (GNRSC) and the Guyana Police Force. The aim of the campaign is to team education awareness with enforcement during strategic road-blocking across the country.The continuous rate of drunk driving fatalities, as was noted by the traffic chief, makes a case that the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act may be too lenient, and makes a call for stricter laws. In so doing, there is also a need for heightened supervision of Police officers who are vested with the duty of arresting and charging persons who are caught driving under the influence. This heightened supervision is needed since, in our local scenario, offenders often slip through the system without being prosecuted.Lawmakers in Guyana must take every action possible to end deaths on our roadways caused by intoxicated drivers. In taking action, it is time for our legislative arm to deliberate on making DUI a non-bailable offence.Such a draconian measure may be the answer to the reckless decision to drive/use drugs and drive causing much carnage on our roadways.last_img

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