Education/Information Officer, Road Safety Unit, Cameal Brooks.
Photo: Contributed

With road fatalities exceeding 400 so far this year, Education/Information Officer, Road Safety Unit, Cameal Brooks, is calling on Jamaicans to adhere to the road safety rules to protect themselves and other road users.

In an interview with JIS News, Ms. Brooks reminds Jamaicans that the safety messages have been implemented to save the lives of motorists and pedestrians alike.

“Cut your speed, keep to the left of the road – that’s a main problem. We ask that [motorists] look out for the vulnerable road users – pedestrians, pedal cyclists and the elderly,” she urges.

Ms. Brooks informs that speeding by motorists continues to be of grave concern to the Unit and calls on road users to observe the various speed limits that have been established.

The Information Officer also encourages road users to plan their routes in advance, particularly with increased activities expected for the festive season.

“Drive within the speed limit; drinking and driving is not recommended; do not drive distracted [or] impaired, and the cellphone use [and other] distractions in the car are definitely out,” she says.

Other examples of distracted driving which can endanger the lives of road users include sending a text message, using a navigation system or other devices/controls to operate the vehicle, and eating while driving.

She urges Jamaicans to drive carefully on the nation’s roads in a bid to reduce the number of road deaths

“There will be an empty chair at almost one in every three households this year, that [is] persons who have lost someone from the coronavirus, and we know that the road traffic crashes are another virus that is causing mayhem on our roads globally,” she adds.

Meanwhile, Ms. Brooks informs that the Unit has been utilising more social media platforms – YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – to disseminate information regarding the proper use of the roadways and vehicle safety, in a bid to curb indiscipline by motorists.

This, she says, is necessary as the coronavirus pandemic has restricted movement/gathering and has impacted the work of the Unit.

“We are trying to get the messages out there via social media…we are trying to get into the homes and to ensure that persons know that road safety matters and it is your responsibility that you drive safely on the road, because anything can happen in a split second,” Ms. Brooks says.

She shares, as well, that the Unit has also been using the electronic media to communicate road safety messages to children in schools.

“We have been in the classrooms via zoom and teams…using video and power point presentations,” she informed, adding that the schools will be revisited to ensure that the students grasped the messages that were presented.

The target group for presentations are children in grades one to six or six to 12 years old. The presentations cover pedestrian safety and relate briefly to how to be safe motorists and passengers.

Ms. Brooks notes that the Unit has partnered with the National Road Safety Council to impart road safety messages to motorcyclists in Westmoreland.

The high number of motorcycle fatalities in the parish prompted the decision by the Ministry of Transport and Mining and its stakeholders to establish the virtual training and motorcycle simulator programme building in the parish.

Training included presentations on road safety, motorcycle operations and motorcycle procurement by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the National Road Safety Council.

The training was done under the theme ‘I am a safe biker. Life matters’.

The Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining generally engages in several activities throughout the year. These are designed to educate and inform the general public about road safety issues.

The Unit is responsible for promoting and fostering orderly and disciplined behaviour on the roads by motorists that is conducive to the development of a safe traffic environment.

This is facilitated through the conceptualisation, design and dissemination of a sustained public information programme.

The Unit secures and analyses accident data collected by the police. The analysis pulls on how, when and where traffic accidents occur as well as who is involved.

Research programmes are advanced to determine demographics and psychosocial behaviour of road users, as well as to inform campaigns, policy, law enforcement, engineering and other corrective measures.

Research programmes are also executed to determine the effectiveness of measures implemented.

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