KINGSTON — Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Mike Henry, says the country can achieve fewer accidents on the roads and reduce fatalities to below 300, annually.
“There is a need for us to abhor all forms of negativity in the traffic environment, and play an active role in ensuring that, instead of talking about below 300, we can begin talking about below 250 by 2013 and beyond,” Mr. Henry said.
He was speaking at a graduation ceremony for participants in a traffic crash investigation and analysis course at the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Staff College, Twickenham Park, St. Catherine on Friday September 16.
Mr. Henry, in whose ministry the Road Safety Unit is based, said his “dream” is to see Jamaicans practising proper road etiquette, as they traverse the traffic environment.
“I have seen too many needless deaths and injuries due to traffic crashes, and I would just like to say that I feel it for the Ministry of Health, which has been forced to fork out close to $2 billion annually to treat persons injured in traffic collisions,” he said.
He noted that the 202 deaths on the roads since the start of the year, amounted to six percent over that of last year.
“I am concerned about the needless loss of life. Therefore, I beseech all road users – motorists, passengers, pedal cyclists, pillion passengers and pedestrians – let us all unite against negative behaviour in the traffic environment, and drive according to the rules and regulations governing road use,” he added.
He also pointed out that the National Road Safety team, with grant funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has been ensuring that they meet key targets in the campaign to reduce road crashes. The areas of focus are education and information, enforcement and legislation, engineering and the traffic environment and emergency response.
“Road safety is everybody’s business, so it is imperative that we join forces to ensure that we bring road fatalities below 300, in a sustainable manner,” he said.
He said that the IDB has recognized the importance of strengthening the capacity of the Road Safety Unit, resulting in over 40 road safety officers becoming involved in the analysis and investigation of traffic collision, after receiving specialized training in the critical areas of primary importance, based on the nature of traffic collisions.
The Minister urged the graduates to use their improved skills to fill the crucial gaps in crash and investigation analysis.
By Garfield L. Angus, JIS Reporter