With 115 road fatalities already recorded since the start of the year, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is again appealing for motorists to slow down on the nation’s roads to preserve lives.
The Prime Minister made the plea during a #SlowDown event hosted at his office today (May 10), to mark the fourth observance of the United Nations (UN) Global Road Safety Week from May 8 to 14.
There was a 20 per cent decrease in road fatalities between January and May this year, compared to the similar period for 2016, where 142 deaths were recorded. A total of 379 persons lost their lives from crashes in 2016. In 2015, there were 382 road casualties.
The Prime Minister noted that while Jamaica is seeing some reductions in road fatalities, the aim is to sustain this. “We want to make it a systemic reduction,” he added.
Mr. Holness committed to using all the resources at the disposal of the Government to ensure that “we reduce by 50 per cent road (fatalities) in Jamaica, by 2020.”
Stressing that road safety is a priority for Jamaica, Mr. Holness, who is also Chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), said he has given a directive to the National Works Agency (NWA) to ensure that all new highways and roads are built with safety features.
Mr. Holness said he has also instructed the NWA to put traffic safety measures in place at known hotspots, to ensure that the number of crashes that normally occur in those areas are reduced.
He also mentioned the Government’s intention to incorporate the use of technology in the management of traffic as it seeks to reduce road fatalities caused by speeding.
“Very soon, you will be seeing that there will be implemented, a camera system for ticketing and tracking the speed of motor vehicles across Jamaica,” the Prime Minister informed.
He noted, as well, that the New Road Traffic Act, to be passed soon, will take into consideration “far more safety features than were in the previous one”.
In his remarks, UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, stressed that the issue of excessive and inappropriate speed has to be tackled in order to achieve success at reducing traffic deaths and injuries.
“We know that just a five per cent reduction in average speed can reduce the risk of fatal crashes by 30 per cent. Speed Kills. If we slow down, we save lives. This is the message that we have to repeat again and again,” he said.
For her part, Ambassador, Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility, Zoleka Mandela, reiterated the call to reduce speed on the roadways and for adequate measures to be put in place to protect the lives of children in particular.
“Around the world, more and more young people are killed on our roads than from any other cause of death. Each day, 3,000 children are killed or injured all around the world on our roads. With effective policing and measures such as road humps, we can help to save hundreds of thousands of lives around the world every year,” she said.
Also adding his voice to the Prime Minister’s plea was Olympian Yohan Blake, who is one of the global ambassadors on speed for the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) 3,500 Lives Campaign.
He urged motorists to set out 20 minutes earlier in order to arrive at their destinations on time and alive.
The campaign, which has already been launched in more than 30 countries and 600 cities around the world, appeals to motorists to obey the speed limit, not to drive drunk, to wear motorcycle helmets and seat belts, and not to use mobile phones while driving.
During the event, the Prime Minister also signed an Open Letter urging action on reducing and enforcing traffic speeds to a level safe for children in Jamaica, as well as prioritising low-speed zones in residential areas and near schools.
Hosted in partnership with the FIA Foundation and the NRSC, the event also highlighted the ongoing global #SlowDown campaign which seeks to increase understanding of the dangers of speed and generate action on measures to address speed and save lives on the roads.
UN Global Road Safety Week is being held under the theme ‘Save Lives, #SlowDown’.
Other activities for the Week include a ‘Slow Down Day’ on Thursday (May 11) and on Friday (May 12); the issuing of certificate to school wardens in recognition of their work; and town hall meetings.
There will also be a national project, which will be carried out in the Eastwood Park Gardens, where speed humps will be installed to slow down vehicles speeding through this area.