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JIS News

Each year, the Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport and Works sets a target for the reduction of fatalities on the nation’s roads, and embarks on a special campaign to achieve this feat.
Last year the Unit decided to include youngsters in the national thrust, with the introduction of the Children Against Reckless Driving (CARD) Campaign, and is following suit this year with a competition format.
The campaign encourages children to make a card for someone they admire as being a good road model or motorist. These persons should promote safe motoring skills and positive behaviour on the nation’s thoroughfares.
Education and Information Officer with the Road Safety Unit, Julian Thompson, tells JIS News that the essence of the campaign is to have children emulate positive behaviour and positive road habits from very early.
He notes that having children identifying good motoring skills from early is critical, as they will practise these habits when they become adults and reduce improper behaviour on the road.
As with last year, the Unit will be visiting vulnerable schools to spread the message of road safety. “We have selected some schools in the parish of St. Andrew, mainly because the statistics show that the students who have been killed were using roads that have no sidewalks or roads that are in areas that are poorly lit,” he says, adding that the campaign seeks to enlighten the students about how to use those roads carefully.
The campaign, which lasts until June, targets children aged seven to 12 years old, and is sponsored by the Road Safety Unit, the Transport Authority, the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), the National Transformation Programme (NTP) and Total Jamaica Limited.
Mr. Thompson informs that the theme of the campaign is: ‘Be a Good Road Model to a Child’.
“The reason why we chose that particular period is because May is significant, because May is Child Month. There is also Mothers’ Day in May and in June, there is Fathers’ Day. June is also Road Safety Month, so it’s a perfect blend, it’s a good combination and a good synergy that we are trying to leverage,” he adds.
He tells JIS News that it is hoped that by the end of the campaign, there will be at least a 20 per cent reduction in road fatalities, adding that it will also highlight the creative skills of the students who participate.
The Unit has also developed a theme song as part of its campaign – ‘Safety Swing Song’.
Student from Drew’s Avenue Primary School, Robert Ellis, embraces the message in the song. “The message of the song is about road safety, so the children who listen to the song will know that when we are crossing the road, we must do so safely. They will learn how to do it and it will become very regular,” he tells JIS news.
He practises road safety with his friends when they cross the streets. “The method that we use to cross the road is that we look left, then right and if the road is clear, then we cross,” he says.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign last month, at the St. Benedict Primary School, in Kingston, Marketing Sales Manager, JUTC, Lenworth Simms, said he was pleased to be working in a collaborative effort to promote safety on the roads. He said that the JUTC is committed to providing smart cards for all competition entrants from the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), as well as finalists in the campaign.
Marketing Director, Total Jamaica Limited, Phillip Caulder, said that developing skills in using the road is critical from an early age, hence the need to start with children.
During the launch, students were encouraged to continue adhering to road safety tips.
Entries for the competition should be submitted to the Road Safety Unit, Ministry of Transport and Works, 145 Maxfield Avenue, Kingston 10.
Mr. Thompson notes that the campaign is one means of getting the children to express their feelings and to highlight their concerns, as in 2008, there were 341 fatalities on the nation’s roads, of which 21 were children. He added that in 2009, 33 of the nation’s children were killed on the roads.
The Road Safety Unit’s mission is to promote and foster an orderly and disciplined traffic culture that is conducive to the development of a safe traffic environment, through the conceptualisation, design and dissemination of a sustained programme of public information, education in schools, legislation, accident information and research.