A virtual training and motorcycle simulator programme building was officially opened at the Petersfield Vocational Training Centre in Westmoreland on Sunday (August 16).
The project, spearheaded by the Ministry of National Security, was done at a cost of $52 million and will allow authorities to deliver important content to riders while also assessing their physical capabilities and readiness.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, in his remarks said the high number of motorcycle fatalities in the parish prompted the decision by the Ministry and its stakeholders to pioneer the programme in the parish.
He noted that the Government is compassionate to those who have lost loved ones to motorcycle accidents and is committed to implementing programmes to prevent further fatalities.
“Our hearts go out to the families that have lost loved ones from these unfortunate situations with motorcyclists. We can assure them that at this moment in Westmoreland, this is the first step of many to come, which takes us in the right direction, so that in the end fewer lives will be lost and fewer young men and women will be injured in accidents,” Senator Samuda said.
He noted that over the past five years there has been a spike in motorcycle fatalities, with the figure now at 505. Since the start of the year, there have been 79 recorded fatalities in the island, and of that figure, Westmoreland has the highest number with 21 fatalities.
The training centre was designed from retrofitted containers equipped with a state-of-the art simulator. A second simulator will be placed at the Grange Hill High School in the parish.
The virtual reality training modules will use Oculus headsets to deliver audiovisual training that can accommodate individuals, regardless of their literacy abilities.
The simulator programme will include a breakdown of the road code and signage, description of motorcycle, controls and components; introduction to basic manoeuvres and the safe use of the motorcycle.
Senator Samuda also addressed the final day of the National Road Safety Council’s Motorcycle Outreach and Training Programme, which was held at the Petersfield Vocational Training Centre.
He lauded all key stakeholders who were instrumental in ensuring that the Motorcycle Outreach and Training Programme was a success. Among the stakeholders were the Jamaica Constabulary Force; the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries; the Insurance Association of Jamaica; Island Traffic Authority; and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
Some 48 motorcyclists from the parish participated in the programme, which had training sessions on Sunday, August 9 and Sunday, August 16.
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’.