Fewer Motorcyclists Dying

Photo: Contributed Back to Basics (BTB) team members (standing l-r) Alyia Titus, Tarik Kiddoe and Jordan Mullings demonstrate safe group riding formation and signals at a Back to Basics Motorcycle Safety workshop held in partnership with the National Road Safety Council and Sandals Resorts International at Negril Hills Golf Course.

Story Highlights

  • Seventeen fewer motorcyclists have died on the nation’s streets since the beginning of the year when compared to the corresponding period in 2016, representing a decrease of almost 50 per cent.
  • Executive Director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Mrs. Paula Fletcher, told JIS News that the decline in motorcycle deaths and crashes comes at a time when the NRSC is partnering with the Back to Basics Motorcycle Safety Mission to implement a biker safety awareness programme.
  • Mrs. Fletcher noted that it was the spike in deaths of motorcyclists that had been causing the upward creep in road fatalities from 2013, with 2015 seeing more motorcyclists dying than pedestrians.

Seventeen fewer motorcyclists have died on the nation’s streets since the beginning of the year when compared to the corresponding period in 2016, representing a decrease of almost 50 per cent.

Data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force Highway and Traffic Division show that up to Thursday, March 16, some 19 motorcyclists had been killed, compared with 36 over the similar period in 2016.

Executive Director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Mrs. Paula Fletcher, told JIS News that the decline in motorcycle deaths and crashes comes at a time when the NRSC is partnering with the Back to Basics Motorcycle Safety Mission to implement a biker safety awareness programme.

“It is strictly a social intervention and a first for us at NRSC, where we go to the community that we are trying to impact, to sensitise them on the issues related to the spike in motorcycle deaths over the past four years,” she explained.

She said that with the assistance of the NRSC, the social project has received funding from the National Health Fund (NHF), and workshops for motorcyclists are being staged in Kingston, Westmoreland, St. Ann and St. Elizabeth, which are the parishes most affected by motorcycle crashes.

The Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ), the Road Safety Unit and Sandals Resorts International are also key stakeholders in the collaboration.

According to the Mrs. Fletcher, when advised that they were considered to be among the most vulnerable road users, the motorcyclists were surprised to know that they were dying in such large numbers.

She said that in the workshops, the operators are taught the safety gears, techniques and precautionary measures necessary to operate on the roads in a responsible manner.

She added that through collaboration with the Island Traffic Authority, the biker safety programme will allow workshop participants to become licensed motorcyclists, as the ITA personnel are on location to administer the tests.

“Most of them are not licensed. The current law has a loophole which allows motorcyclists to drive on a learner’s permit indefinitely. However, that loophole will be plugged in the Road Traffic Bill that we are hoping to have passed shortly,” she said.

Mrs. Fletcher noted that it was the spike in deaths of motorcyclists that had been causing the upward creep in road fatalities from 2013, with 2015 seeing more motorcyclists dying than pedestrians.

“It is significant that we have stopped that increasing trend and we are hoping that it will continue, because the number (379 in 2016) is still too high for a country of our population, but it is encouraging that we are trending back down,” she said.

Mrs. Fletcher informed that over the years, pedestrians have accounted for a larger number of road fatalities than motorcyclists and, so far, there is just one more in that category with 19 when compared with 18 pedestrians to date.

“We can’t lose sight of the pedestrians, however, who are also vulnerable road users,” she said, while pointing out that pedestrian deaths have increased by five with 13 over the similar period in 2016.

There has also been a significant decrease in private motorcar passengers dying, with three in 2017 to date, compared with 13 for the similar period in 2016.

In 2012, some 260 persons died in traffic collisions. In 2013, the number increased to 307 and to 331 in 2014. In 2015, the number increased by more than 50 to 382, but in 2016, the figure was reduced by three to 379.

JIS Social