JIS News

Director of the Road Safety Unit, Kenute Hare, is appealing to motorists and other road users to exercise increased safety in the traffic environment, in order to reduce the number of pedestrians who are being mowed down on the nation’s roads.
This call follows the Unit’s March 2009 Traffic Crash Report, which shows pedestrian fatalities accounting for 32 per cent of the 66 persons killed on the roads since the start of the year. Nineteen per cent of the pedestrians killed were elderly persons, while 29 per cent were children.
Mr. Hare told JIS News that based on reports from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), up to March 16, some 25 pedestrians died in traffic crashes, two more than the number recorded for the similar period last year.
The Director is urging drivers to be more mindful of pedestrians and their needs. “We need to recognise that pedestrians are our most vulnerable road users and from as far back as 1991, they are accounting for 30 to 33 per cent of all the road users killed,” Mr. Hare informed.
“They are the most vulnerable road users, they do not wear helmets and they do not wear seatbelts, and they depend on motorists to protect them in the traffic environment,” he added.
He is encouraging motorists to look out for warning signals, such as ice cream carts which, most times, indicate that a child is nearby, and that caution should be observed.
“Stay in your lane and do not drift over on to the sidewalks,” the Director cautioned, noting that in some instances pedestrians are mowed down while walking on sidewalks.
He is reminding pedestrians of their obligations as road users, pointing out that over 50 per cent of the pedestrian deaths since the start of the year were due to improper use of the road. “I want to encourage pedestrians to use the crossings provided and to observe the traffic lights, and cross whenever the sign indicates that you can walk,” Mr. Hare said.
Pedestrians are also urged to desist from consuming alcoholic beverages while on the roads. “If you have to drink alcohol, do not put yourself in the traffic environment,” he said.
The Report discloses that 101 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2008, down from 108 in 2007. The projected number of pedestrian deaths for 2009 is 100. However, Mr. Hare is hopeful for a sharp decrease, way below the 100 projected. “We want to be in a situation where we have less than 60 pedestrians being killed on our roadways,” he said.
The Report shows fatal crashes and fatalities down by 16 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, compared to the similar period last year. In 2008 there were 75 fatalities in the January to March period, compared to the 66 from 57 accidents recorded to date, 16 less than the 83 deaths projected by the Unit to the end of March.
Addressing concerns regarding this projection, the Director explained that a time series methodology is used to forecast the traffic crashes. “The forecast shows 83, but we are working assiduously to get the figure to less than 83,” he explained.
Using the said method, the Report projects a total of 339 road fatalities for 2009, 0.6 per cent less than the 341 recorded last year. However, Mr. Hare pointed out that the organisation has undertaken a number of initiatives, independent and collaborative, to significantly reduce road fatalities to a figure under 300. The ‘Walk Good Programme’, a one-minute Public Service Announcement, which provides pedestrians with proper road usage tips, is one such initiative.
“For us to achieve the below 300 target, pedestrian fatalities must be cut by at least 60 per cent. I believe that we can do it, but it will require a partnership between drivers and pedestrians,” he said.

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