You have to be a fool to sit on a cycle without a helmet – Traffic Chief

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

At the Guyana Police Force’s monthly traffic heads and stakeholders meeting, Traffic Chief Mahendra Singh delivered a stern warning regarding the concerning trend of pillion riders neglecting to wear helmets while seated on motorcycles.

Known for his no-nonsense approach to road safety, the Traffic Chief highlighted the life-threatening consequences associated with this dangerous behaviour.

Addressing both drivers and pillion passengers, he expressed concern at this blatant disregard for traffic laws, even by individuals in positions of authority.

“Riding motorcycles without a helmet does not only give precedence to me [the motorcyclist] being a bad man or a recognized man who maybe law enforcement does not wish to target for enforcement purposes; and the same thing goes for the pillion rider,” Singh emphasised during the conference.

He underscored the risk involved in riding without proper safety gear by stating, “You (pillion rider) have to be a fool to want to sit on a cycle (and) be towed by someone who is not wearing safety equipment; or he [she] is wearing, and you are not wearing. Then when the accident occurs, you die… Someone will be happy for the business when you die, Lyken or the rest.”

Further, the Traffic Chief emphasised the importance of mutual respect between law enforcement officers and civilians. “Respect is a two-way stream,” he said as he urged Police officers to engage with civilians in a manner in which they would like to be engaged. “Do the right thing and not only expect them to comply with you, but enforce it in such a way that it is being done in an appropriate manner…,” he declared. “Utilise Force compliance with proper procedures,” he advised.

Highlighting the potential consequences for motorists who fail to comply with road laws, he warned of financial burdens and disabilities that may result from accidents. “You should be considerate that someone else is using the road with you,” he added.

The Traffic Chief has urged both members of the public and law enforcement officials to prioritize road safety, emphasizing that professionalism and adherence to proper procedures are essential to maintain the integrity of the enforcement process.

The stern warning comes as a crucial reminder for Guyanese drivers to prioritize safety on the roads, since there has been an increase in road accidents. In 2023, Guyana witnessed a staggering 76.8% increase in road fatalities, soaring from 99 in 2022 to 175.

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn urgently addressed the alarming situation by citing speeding as the primary factor contributing to a 110% rise in fatalities, from 61 in 2022 to 128 in 2023. Benn has announced that Government plans to introduce e-ticketing for traffic violations, and to distribute helmets to motorcyclists.

During a press conference, Benn had stressed the need for behaviour modification to enhance road safety, and had encouraged citizens to report unsafe practices, particularly by minibus operators and taxi drivers.

The minister had acknowledged the challenges posed by the movement of construction materials, due to ongoing development, by emphasizing the importance of leaving early to ensure timely arrival without the stress of accidents.

A detailed analysis of traffic data revealed troubling trends, with male drivers experiencing a 79.2% rise in fatalities, female fatalities increasing by 64.7%, and the age group of 25-42 years old comprising 43.4% of all fatalities.

Fatal accidents involving motorcyclists witnessed a dramatic 166.7% increase. To address these concerns, comprehensive driver education and training programmes would be implemented to promote road safety in the country.