August 19, 2016

Traffic: Deadly in Yangon

Alec Wilmot

It’s no mystery to anyone who’s spent time in Yangon that the traffic situation here is dangerous. There is an almost universal disregard for the established rules of fair and safe driving while on the road – cars pushing in front of one another, nudging into the opposite lane to force their U-turn, buses speeding down the wrong side of the street because the driver doesn’t think that they should wait for the light to turn green. These are just some of the everyday occurrences that endanger drivers, passengers and members of the public. Whether it’s on the wide, modern Pyay Road or in a tight downtown street that only allows for one vehicle to pass there is a constant threat to pedestrians that they might be struck down unexpectedly by a speeding driver looking for a quick corner to take seconds off their journey. Drink driving is more or less unregulated and this editor himself has been picked up by taxi drivers that later turned out to be under the influence about half a dozen times in less than a year. There seems to be very little outrage at this taking of power from pedestrians. It is high time the government took action to instil in drivers consideration for the rules of the road and more importantly the safety of their passengers and people walking along the street. I don’t propose to do this via policing just yet, the Yangon police force is stretched rather thin and does not have the resources to crack down on dangerous driving (though this would probably be a better use of their time than making sure convenience stores don’t sell beer after a certain time of night). The government needs to launch a campaign to stress to the drivers of Yangon that not only is it proven that abiding by the traffic laws and staying in one lane without zooming to overtake whomever you can ultimately results in faster and safer traffic with reduced traffic jams, the lives of people walking on the road will be better protected as well.


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