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  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, is imploring all citizens to engage in safer road use practices to better protect the lives of vulnerable users, particularly children.
  • The Prime Minister was speaking at the official launch of the third United Nations (UN) Global Road Safety Week 2015, at Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) Autohaus, in Kingston, today (April 30).
  • The Prime Minister noted that road safety is a major area of concern and focus for her, specifically as Chair of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC).

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, is imploring all citizens to engage in safer road use practices to better protect the lives of vulnerable users, particularly children.

“No child should feel threatened as they travel daily to school, church or to participate in social activities. We have to protect our children. It is our duty. It is our ultimate trust as a society – to preserve and protect the lives of children, who are the very future of our nation,” she said.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the official launch of the third United Nations (UN) Global Road Safety Week 2015, at Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) Autohaus, in Kingston, today (April 30).

Lamenting that the lives of too many children are lost to road fatalities every year, Mrs. Simpson Miller stressed that the Government has been working persistently to reduce road fatalities, pointing to changes that are to be made to the Road Traffic Act, as well as ongoing communication and awareness campaigns.

“Discussions are also taking place for improvements in technology, to include the use of electronic surveillance systems to curb speeding and the running of red lights,” she said.

The Prime Minister noted that road safety is a major area of concern and focus for her, specifically as Chair of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC).

“It remains a top priority for action because year after year, hundreds of our people, including many of our children, are killed as a result of road crashes; buried with their dreams, talents and unfulfilled potential,” she said.

She noted that behaviour change among motorists is critical to the success of road safety measures, particularly those users who endanger themselves and others by constantly speeding and disobeying traffic signs.

The Prime Minister said members of the community have a major role to play by using the roads properly and assisting children to use the roads safely. She added that they can also assist by not removing or destroying road signs.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said the NRSC is working hard to bring about behaviour change which will result in fewer crashes and less road fatalities. She pointed out that the Council is also participating in discussions with the multilateral community to reduce crashes which cause death and injury on the roads.

She also noted that with a similar proclamation by the Governor-General, Jamaica has joined the movement to stabilize, then reduce fatality rates by 50 per cent by 2020 as stated in the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety declaration.

Mr. Simpson Miller said that the theme for Global Road Safety Week: ‘Save Kids Lives’, is a most appropriate call to action at a time when children’s lives are threatened on and off the roads.

“This mission to save the lives of our children is a national one that must involve persons in every sector. I therefore welcome the participation of the Sandals Group as our road safety partner, working to secure our children,” she added.

The Prime Minister also said she is looking forward to the proposed Sesame Street Road Safety Awareness Campaign to be implemented by the Sandals Group in partnership with the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, through the Road Safety Unit.

“I have every confidence that this campaign will go a far way in helping to achieve positive behaviour change among road users and ultimately ‘Save Kids Lives’,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and all partners are committed to the task of ensuring greater levels of road safety and fewer road fatalities in 2015.

She said that while there have been some encouraging results in reduced road fatalities over the years from a high of over 400 annually, the number of deaths is still too high. She noted that 2013 ended with 307 fatalities, and 2014 with 330 deaths.

“We all have to work together to reverse this trend in support of the aim of the ‘Below 240 Programme’ as well as the Decade of Action for Road Safety. More importantly, we have to reverse the trend in order to preserve the lives of our people,” she said.

A total of 124 persons, including five children, have lost their lives due to road fatalities since the start of the year.

UN Global Road Safety Week is being observed from May 4 to 10.