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His Royal Highness, Prince Michael of Kent, has suggested that aggressive enforcement of the seat belt law could assist in further improving road safety in Jamaica.

He pointed out that the use of safety belts and helmets is one of the most basic ways of improving road safety in any country.

The Prince was speaking during a Round Table discussion with representatives of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), following a tour of the National Works Agency’s Traffic Management Centre in Kingston, on April 17.

The tour and discussion formed part of the itinerary for the Prince’s five-day working visit to the island, from April 15 to 19, as special guest of the NRSC, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Citing the case of Costa Rica, he noted that enforcement of the seat belt law in that country had made a significant impact on its usage among motorists, and in turn, road safety. He informed that the country was awarded the Prince Michael Road Safety honour as a result of its achievements in improving seat belt compliance.

“The reason I gave them an award is because, finally, 20 years after the (seat belt) law had been introduced, they actually got around to enforcement. So, it can be done and if Costa Rica can do it, I’m sure you can do it,” he said.

Responding to Prince Michael’s suggestion,Executive Director at the NRSC, Paula Fletcher, said that the Council, and other stakeholders, including the Road Safety Unit, have been working to change the culture of seat belt usage in Jamaica, through the use of public education campaigns.

She informed that these campaigns have seen very favourable results over the years.

“We are aware of the challenges with seat belt usage, and from time to time, have had various programmes,” she said.

Mrs. Fletcher informed that in conjunction with the NRSC’s 20th anniversary celebrations, the Council has launched a road safety campaign, in collaboration with Olympic gold medallist, Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, with one of the main messages being the promotion of seat belt usage.

The Prince is the Royal Patron for the Commission for Global Road Safety and Patron of the non-profit organisation, Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). Both organisations have been leading advocates in the fight to reduce road traffic injuries and deaths.

He is also Patron for the Institute of the Motor Industry, as well as founder and patron of the Prince Michael Road Safety Award Scheme. Additionally, he is President of the Institute of Road Safety Officers and is an Honorary Fellow at the Institute of Highways and Transportation.

The Prince, who arrived in the island on April 15, is on a five-day visit as the special guest of the NRSC, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. He will depart the island on Friday, April 19.

Also in attendance were: Minister of Transport, Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy; State Minister in the Ministry, Hon. Richard Azan; Vice Chairman and Convener of the NRSC, Earl Jarrett; and Co-ordinator of the Below 240 Programme, Victor Anderson.

By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter