Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, says the Government is committed to ensuring road safety, through legislative and other measures.
He was speaking on Wednesday, May 15, at the launch of the 5th Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo and the 2nd Road Safety 5K, held at the Ministry in Kingston.
Among the initiatives is a revision of the Road Traffic Act of 1938 to “acutely and adequately address the current challenges in the transportation sector… and will ensure that road safety issues are addressed according to 21st century requirements,” Dr. Guy said.
He informed that the revision is in its final stages and the Act is expected to be passed during this parliamentary year.
It addresses the use of mobile phones when driving and the implementation of a three stage driver’s licensing system, which is aimed at improving the competency of Jamaican drivers.
Dr. Guy noted that at the organisational level, every effort is being made to increase the competency of drivers and to reduce fraud, which may compromise the effectiveness of the system.
“Once the new Act is passed, driving schools and instructors will be required to be certified by the Island Traffic Authority and adhere to an approved curriculum, which will address issues such as defensive driving,” he stated.
For his part, Chairman of the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and Patron of the 5K/Expo, Milton Samuda, said the message of road safety continues to be relevant to every Jamaican.
He noted that despite a successful Below 300 campaign, which saw road fatalities moving from 308 in 2011 to 260 in 2012, this year has seen an increase in such fatalities.
So far, 10 children have been killed in road traffic crashes as compared to three in 2012. Overall there have been 94 fatalities compared with 85 last year. Additionally, there have been 86 fatal collisions, up from 71. Pedestrian fatalities have increased by 23 per cent; motorcycle fatalities by 67 per cent; and pedal cycle fatalities by 167 per cent.
Mr. Samuda noted that while the Government and other stakeholders continue to work towards a reduction in road crashes, there is also a great need for a change in the mindset of some road users.
“I believe that our behaviour on our roadways is symptomatic of the breakdown of discipline and order,” he remarked.
He noted that “if we make our roadways areas of order, courtesy, discipline, and an adherence to rules, we not only contribute to the campaign to reduce road crashes and fatalities, but we also contribute to the overarching goal of creating an environment conducive to the investment and economic growth, we so desperately require”.
The Road Safety 5K will be held on Saturday, June 1. It will start at 7:00 a.m. at the Grennell’s Driving School on Mona Road in St. Andrew. Proceeds from the event will go towards purchasing of well-needed equipment for the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the Percy Junor Hospital in Portland.
The Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo, which is being held under theme: ‘Road Safety: No Time for Complacency’, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 15 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in Kingston, starting at 10: 00 a.m.
Contact: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker