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Executive Director, National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Paula Fletcher.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Story Highlights

  • The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) will be implementing recommendations from a gap analysis conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy (JHCIRP), in an effort to reduce road fatalities in Jamaica.
  • The NRSC had submitted a request to the JHCIRP for a gap analysis to be conducted and recommendations made for programmes and policies to reduce traffic-related crashes, deaths and injuries in Jamaica.
  • According to the report findings, a total of 24 best practice recommendations were identified by the gap analysis to address priority areas, including that the current systems that ticket and manage speed violations can be improved to streamline both ticket delivery and records.

The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) will be implementing recommendations from a gap analysis conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy (JHCIRP), in an effort to reduce road fatalities in Jamaica.

The NRSC had submitted a request to the JHCIRP for a gap analysis to be conducted and recommendations made for programmes and policies to reduce traffic-related crashes, deaths and injuries in Jamaica.

According to the report findings, a total of 24 best practice recommendations were identified by the gap analysis to address priority areas, including that the current systems that ticket and manage speed violations can be improved to streamline both ticket delivery and records.

Another recommendation is that vehicle regulations should occur more regularly, with standard consequences for those whose vehicles fail fitness tests; and that traffic courts and dedicated traffic police may benefit from restructuring to ensure timely processing of violations and improved road safety.

Speaking with JIS News, Executive Director of the NRSC, Paula Fletcher, says the Council received the final report in January this year, adding that best practice recommendations were taken from research literature and international organisations.

Mrs. Fletcher says many of the best practices and recommendations from the gap analysis are based on World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) guidelines, which are grounded in a safe systems approach.

Some practices, she notes, are already in progress in Jamaica, while others have support in the amended Road Traffic Act that was pending at the time of the gap analysis report.

“They have aligned their work with what other organisations are doing, mainly the WHO/PAHO, because they have a macro view of what other countries should be doing in the various areas – safe systems approach, which is safe seatbelts, safe roads, safe road users; and having some kind of evaluation for emergency response,” she explains.

The gap analysis utilised three methods: a literature review to document the epidemiology of road traffic injuries in Jamaica; a review of Jamaica’s existing data sources relevant to road traffic crashes and the initiatives being undertaken by the NRSC; and a site visit to conduct stakeholder interviews.

It recommended enforcing and updating existing laws, such as those addressing emergency lanes, motorcyclists not using helmets, as well as drinking and driving.

Mrs. Fletcher says implementation of these measures should assist in decreasing road fatalities to less than 300 cases annually, in line with international standards.

“The objective of that study is to look at where we are and where we need to get to, as well as the areas in-between, which are the gaps and the things that we need to put in place,” she notes.

She adds that these findings will serve to reinforce the goal of the Council, which is to reduce traffic-related fatalities.

Mrs. Fletcher says the University of the West Indies (UWI) Medical Faculty has expressed an interest in establishing an injury centre for research and prevention at the UWI, Mona campus, and that discussions between the NRSC and the UWI are under way.

The NRSC plans to further increase its islandwide activities to lower fatalities for 2019 in accordance with international standards, through its ‘Below 300’ campaign.

Findings from the gap analysis are also being used to support the activities of this public education campaign, which seeks to employ a safe systems approach to road use that will ultimately lead to safer roads, safer vehicles, safe speeds and ultimately safe drivers and pedestrians.

The campaign, which is implemented by the NRSC, began in February and is slated to end this month.

Mrs. Fletcher says over the last six years, there have been more than 300 fatalities yearly, from road collisions caused by speeding, lack of seatbelt use, distracted driving (use of cellular phones), drinking and driving, and motorcyclists not wearing helmets.

“We are saying, slow down, wear your seatbelts, put children in car seats, observe the speed limits, and obey traffic signs and signals,” she urges.

The Ministry of Transport and Mining Traffic Crash Update for March 2019 noted that more than 100 persons have died since the start of the year in traffic-related accidents.

Pedestrians, motorcyclists, and passengers of private motor vehicles have recorded the highest number of fatalities to date.

The breakdown of the figures reveal that 22 pedestrians, 7 pedal cyclists, 30 motorcyclists, two pillions, 17 private motor vehicle passengers, two passengers of commercial motor vehicles, one driver of a public passenger vehicle, 19 drivers of private motor vehicles and one commercial motor vehicle driver died.

The Ministry of Health states that the annual medical cost resulting from road crashes is $1.8 billion, with the average cost of injury calculated at over $113,000 per person.