Motorcyclists in Westmoreland who participated in the National Road Safety Council’s Motorcycle Outreach and Training Programme, which concluded on August 16, are lauding the initiative as helpful and life-saving.
Training sessions for the programme were held on Sunday, August 9 and Sunday, August 16.
The programme, which was held at the Petersfield Vocational Training Centre in the parish, had some 48 motorcyclists participate in training sessions in the areas of road safety, motorcycle operations, and motorcycle procurement, among other topics.
Training was conducted by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the National Road Safety Council.
Motorcyclist from Shrewsberry in the parish, Frank Reid, told JIS News that the programme was an eye-opening experience.
“I learned riding techniques through cones, which was something I enjoyed. I wish all [motorcyclists] could experience this programme, so we could save money and lives,” Mr. Reid said.
Another motorcyclist, Courtney Beckford, also noted that the programme was a “good thing”, as it taught participants how to be cautious on the roads.
“There are a lot of crazy persons on the road, so we have to try and do the right thing to secure ourselves and others. I participated in this programme because I am never too old to learn. I never knew that I had to have on other protective gear apart from the helmet and gloves,” he said.
Incidentally, Mr. Beckford also told JIS News that the programme especially hit home because he experienced an accident in November of last year, which could have claimed his life had he not been wearing a helmet.
For his part, a motorcyclist from Savanna-la-Mar in the parish, Steve Gosling, told JIS News that the programme was a necessary one, as riders were dying at an alarming rate in the parish due to road accidents.
“I have lost a lot of friends [to motorcycle accidents], and it makes me sad. That’s why I participated in the programme, to learn about motorcycle safety, insurance and a lot of other things we didn’t know about before,” Mr. Gosling outlined.
In an interview with JIS News, Director of the Road Safety Unit at the Ministry of Transport and Mining, Kenute Hare, said the unit also started to place more emphasis on educating motorcyclists, as fatalities among that group of road users were “getting out of hand”.
“From 2015 onwards, this [category of] of road user has been the most killed globally; therefore, we have a duty to reach out to them and we have been doing so in various communities, specifically in Western Jamaica, because one in every two motorcycle fatalities has taken place in this region,” Mr. Hare said.
He added that since 2017, the island has had more than 707 deaths due to road accidents, and of that figure, 201 were motorcyclists, all of whom were males.
Mr. Hare pointed out that some motorcyclists were negligent in ensuring that their motorcycles were equipped with side mirrors, which increases visibility for riders.
He added that motorcyclists must desist from riding on the white line at the centre of the roadway, as it is a very dangerous practice that could lead to fatal head-on collisions.
The Motorcycle Outreach and Training Programme was conducted under the theme ‘I am a safe biker. Life matters’.
Meanwhile, a virtual training and motorcycle simulator programme building was also opened on the Petersfield Vocational Training Centre premises on August 16, to further improve training for motorcyclists in the parish.
This project, spearheaded by the Ministry of National Security, was done at a cost of $52 million and will allow authorities to deliver important content to riders, while also assessing their physical capabilities and readiness.