JIS News

Parents and guardians are being urged not to send young children alone in the traffic environment, as they tend to possess psychological and physiological limitations, which will require the presence of an adult to make informed decisions, such as proper use of the road.
In an interview with JIS News, Director of the Road Safety Unit, Kenute Hare, pointed out that in the March 2009 Crash Report of the Unit, six children have died in crashes since the start of the year. All six were pedestrians.
The Director noted that in most of the crashes reported, the children were not protected by adults.
“We are extremely concerned about the vulnerability of our children in the traffic environment, particularly those who have to walk on the roadways,” he said.
“Where you have situations where a child under four is left to bolt across the road and be hit, this is a serious concern. Let us ensure that our children are protected in the traffic environment. Let us not send them out there on their own in the environment,” he urged.
The Road Safety Head also appealed to parents to refrain from exposing their children to unnecessary danger, through unsafe practices, such as placing children in the front of vehicles. This, he noted, is potentially dangerous, as there is the possibility that the air bag may inflate and suffocate the child. He also emphasised the need for proper seatbelt usage.
He further pointed to the need for parents to purchase helmets with the bicycles they give to their children, as they seek to ensure that they have all the safety gadgets that will allow their children to survive in Jamaica’s traffic environment.
Mr. Hare said although he was pleased with the overall decline in child fatalities over the years, the numbers are still unacceptable.
Twenty one children were killed in crashes, in 2008. This, he noted, was the lowest recorded in a number of years and represented a 56.25 per cent decline from 48 deaths in 2002.
The Director attributed this steady decline to the entrenchment of Road Safety Education in schools. The Unit, he said, visits at least 15 Primary schools per month, as part of a relentless drive to ensure that every child across Jamaica is fully educated in road safety matters. This, he noted, is a sustainable programme that should reach every primary school in the long term.
“We are using the children as a catalyst to bring road fatalities down. We know that children have a profound influence on their parents and guardians and we are empowering them with the relevant road safety techniques and practices, things that they should look out for and to challenge their parents to make proper decisions,” he explained.
Mr. Hare commended the Ministries of Education, Transport and Works, and National Security for their various collaborative efforts in bringing road safety to the schools.
“Let us cut the high cost that the Ministry of Health is incurring to treat traffic injuries. Moreso, let us try to reduce the grief that families face, because their loved ones are killed or injured in a traffic collision,” he implored.

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