JIS News

Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill, said yesterday (March 18), that the Government was committed to ensuring that Jamaicans were safe on the nation’s roads and was taking “practical measures to ensure that road safety is no accident”.
“The Ministry.through the Transport Authority, has introduced new regulations to govern public transportation. With regard to policy, we intend to launch the National Road Safety Policy very shortly,” he added.
Mr. Pickersgill was delivering the keynote address at the official launch of the British Caribbean Insurance Company Limited (BCIC) ASSIST Care Centre and Services, in Kingston.
The Minister pointed out that Jamaica continued to have a very high rate of motor vehicle accidents, with 54 fatal ones since the start of the year, which led to the death of 58 persons. Last year, 374 persons died from 338 accidents.
Mr. Pickersgill noted that studies conducted locally indicated that “poor judgement on the part of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is a major cause of these accidents”.
He cited statistics, which showed that for the period 1991-2000, 81.5 per cent of road fatalities involved males, while 95 per cent of the drivers who met their deaths were male. “The age cohort 20-29 years has emerged as the one most affected by fatal accidents,” he added.
The Minister then sought to draw a parallel between the increase in the number of vehicles on the nation’s roads, and the high incidence of accidents. “Quite apart from the obvious problem of reckless and dangerous driving, another cause of our motor vehicle accidents, is the high level of motorisation,” he said.
The Minister said that increased vigilance on the roads was critical, especially for children and young people.
“We have been snuffing out the lives of our children, the future of this country, by way of motor vehicle accidents. Children in the 0-14 age group account for one-third of pedestrian fatalities, and pedestrian deaths generally, account for 30 per cent of all road fatalities,” the Minister continued.
Motor vehicle accidents are also a financial drain to many countries. In fact, they cost the global economy in excess of US$500 billion every year. In 2002, Jamaica spent more than $1.4 billion in the public health sector to care for the victims of such accidents.
“It is significant, and we should note, that the cost of attending to injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents, exceeds the cost of treating people afflicted with cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, psychiatric disorders and diabetes,” Minister Pickersgill revealed.
The draft of the National Road Safety Policy, which the Government intends to launch in the near future, was tabled in Parliament in January 2003, and contains a comprehensive mix of approaches designed to reduce and prevent the occurrence of accidents. These approaches are organised in five basic categories – Engineering and the Traffic Environment, Education and Information, Enforcement and Legislation, Emergency Response and, Evaluation and other comprehensive actions.
“The fundamental quantitative goal of the National Road Safety Policy is the reduction of the occurrence of accidents, as well as the rate of mortality and morbidity by at least 25 per cent over the next five years,” the Minister said.
Mr. Pickersgill pointed to World Health Day, which will be celebrated on April 7, 2004 under the theme: ‘Road Safety Is No Accident’. The Government intends to mark the day by focusing on the approximately 357 pedestrian crossings islandwide, particularly those in the vicinity of schools.

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