JIS News

Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill has said that the high incidence of motor vehicle accidents was burdening the country’s health facilities and causing a strain on the Government’s purse.
He said that the cost of motor vehicle accidents was in excess of US$518 million per year, which represented one per cent of the Gross National Product (GNP). Meanwhile, in 2002 more than $1.4 billion was spent to provide health care to individuals as a result of motor vehicle accidents.
Speaking at a news conference to present a draft on the National Road Safety Policy at the Ministry’s office in Kingston today (Jan. 29), the Minister said that on a scale of 10 medical concerns, injuries as a result of motor vehicle accidents, topped the list.
Minister Pickersgill said that the cost of treating a motor vehicle accident victim in 2002 was close to $13,000 at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH). He said that the cost of injuries exceeded the costs of caring for people with Obstetric and Gynaecological concerns, Cardiovascular and respiratory illness, and Psychiatric disorder.
He also pointed out that although the total number of fatal injuries from motor vehicle accidents had declined over the last decade, provisional data indicated that the number of people attending accident and emergency units at Government hospitals, as a result of motor vehicle accidents, had risen by nearly 40 per cent.
Mr. Pickersgill reported that in 2002, 12,245 people were taken to accident and emergency units at various hospitals. Giving a break down, he informed that the Spanish Town Hospital received the highest accident victims numbering 2,009 followed by the Kingston Public Hospital with 1,742 and Annotto Bay Hospital in St. Mary receiving the lowest with 447.
Turning to the causes of these accidents, the Minister said that the main cause of road accidents was inappropriate behaviour. He said from the period 1991 to 2000, 81.5 per cent of road fatalities involved males, while 18.5 per cent of such fatalities involved females, representing a ratio of four to one.
For the same period, 95 per cent of the drivers that died as a result of motor vehicle accidents were males, with the remaining five per cent being females. The overwhelming majority of the males were in their productive years.
Minister Pickersgill said that the age cohort 20 – 29 years was most affected, adding, “the sad story does not end here. We are also snuffing out the lives of our children, the future of this country. Children between the ages of 0-14, account for one third of pedestrian fatalities”.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that pedestrian deaths, generally accounted for 30 per cent of all road fatalities.
Citing some of the reasons for this high mortality rate, he said this included the lack of green areas and sidewalks where some children live and the high level of motorization. He also mentioned reckless and dangerous driving and the reduced tendency of the motoring public to show care for the safety of pedestrians in general and for the safety of children in particular.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that an average of one million fatalities and more than ten million injuries occur every year, as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Motor vehicle accidents now cost the global economy in excess of US$500 billion every year.

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