JIS News

The Road Safety Unit is urging motorists and other road users to be more mindful of senior citizens, especially during the Christmas season.
Since the start of the year, 50 elderly persons have died in traffic accidents. Of this number, 42 were males and eight were females, indicating a 19 per cent increase over last year. Sixty per cent of the elderly persons killed were pedestrians.
Speaking with JIS News, Accident Analyst at the Unit, Kenute Hare, says: “We are continuing to see our elderly population dying in traffic crashes [and as a result] we are reducing our ability to benefit from the intelligence that they possess.”
“So far we have had 312 persons dying on the roads and our elderly population accounts for 16 per cent. We are wasting valuable human resources. We need to do some serious work as it relates to the prevalence of elderly persons dying on our roads,” he adds.
Last year 31 elderly males died while 11 females perished. Death among male senior citizens reached an all time high in 2004 when 49 males died and 14 female senior citizens died.
Mr. Hare says that this is of grave concern because “from where we sit we are expecting elderly fatalities to increase by 22 per cent. This is sad for us as we thought we would have less people dying.”At present Jamaica is ranked at the medium level on the Latin American and Caribbean accident barometer, which is a tool used to measure how well countries are doing as it relates to fatalities per population.
Thirty seven per cent of elderly persons killed were in the 60-64 age group, while 26 per cent were in the 65-69 age group. Of the 50 senior citizens who died, 30 were pedestrians, seven were pedal cyclists, four were Private Motor Car (PMC) drivers; four were PMC passengers; three were Commercial Motor Car (CMC) drivers and two were motor cyclists.
“This is of concern because we have noticed that the rate of persons dying per 100,000 among the elderly is 25.52 persons who are in the 60-65 age group, 18.9 persons in the 65-69 age group, and 15.59 persons belonging to the 70-74 age group. The rate for the elderly is very, very high when compared with the rate for any other age group and it’s a profound and fundamental problem for us,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. Hare notes that the Unit will have to carry out more indepth analysis to ascertain the cause of the problem and to develop the appropriate strategies that would allow senior citizens to be safe within the traffic environment.
“One should also recognize that as road users, elderly persons cannot move as quickly as the younger persons, so care needs to be taken when we see them on the roadways,” he points out.
Statistics this year from the Unit have also revealed that road deaths among the elderly have been increasing each quarter, when compared with the similar period last year. The Accident Analyst is advising caretakers to ensure that elderly persons are accompanied by someone if they have to go on the roads and is asking members of the public to lend a helping hand.
Mr. Hare is appealing to drivers, especially those who are carrying passengers, to desist from using their motor vehicles to create mayhem on the nation’s roadways and to cause people’s lives to be disrupted because of careless driving.
In the meantime, he says the fact that more males are dying in traffic crashes is “no accident,” but is as a result of the misbehaviour of drivers who are more often than not males.
“The behaviour of our males needs to change. They need to be much more careful on the roadways and more attentive to the situations that are within the traffic environment.and not to deprive the nation of our ability to produce and develop that we love,” he stresses.
“Traffic crashes are not supposed to happen because they occur as a result of misbehaviour by motorists,” he adds, while reiterating that drivers need to ensure that passengers are belted both in the front and back seats.

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