- Jamaica’s road safety programme has been significantly strengthened following the completion of a seven-month defensive driving, crash investigation, analysis and reconstruction course by over 75 Government road safety officers.
- The course, staged between February and September 2014, was one of three organised by the Ministry of Transport, Works, and Housing’s Road Safety Unit, starting in 2011.
- The initiative was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Road Improvement Programme (RIP) at a cost of $33.7 million.
Jamaica’s road safety programme has been significantly strengthened following the completion of a seven-month defensive driving, crash investigation, analysis and reconstruction course by over 75 Government road safety officers, at the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI).
The course, staged between February and September 2014, was one of three organised by the Ministry of Transport, Works, and Housing’s Road Safety Unit, starting in 2011. The initiative was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank’s Road Improvement Programme (RIP) at a cost of $33.7 million.
Participants were drawn from the Ministries of Transport, Works, and Housing, and Health, National Works Agency (NWA), Island Traffic Authority (ITA), Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ), Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Parish Councils, and the CMI, among other agencies.
They were trained in key focus areas such as driver behaviour, defensive driving, crash investigation and analysis, and risk indices, which were delivered by lecturers from the University of North Florida’s Institute of Police Technology and Management (IPTM) in the United States.
The graduates, who were recognised during a closing ceremony at the CMI on Friday (September 26), will be awarded CMI diploma certification, accredited by the United Kingdom vocational education organization, City and Guilds of London Institute.
It is anticipated that with their newly acquired expertise, the graduates will be able to assist in stemming the incidence of road accidents and deaths, which stood at 235 for the year up to Friday. This will be done through effective application of various elements of their training.
Speaking at the ceremony, Director of Road Safety in the Ministry, Kenute Hare, underscored the importance of the training courses in closing the “gaps which exist in our collision investigation and analysis process.”
“For years, we were unable to (conclusively) determine (issues in accidents such as) who was driving, and whether or not persons were wearing seatbelts. But…in most cases…we are now empowered to determine (these),” he stated.
Mr. Hare praised the calibre of the IPTM lecturers, whom he said are all holders of the prestigious globally recognised American Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction certification.
“It is our belief that the participants were very enthusiastic and are committed towards (further) developing Jamaica’s road safety process. Rest assured that Jamaica’s defensive driving, crash investigation, reconstruction analysis processes are in good hands, as we are better trained and will ensure continuous improvement as we seek to make our roads safer,” Mr. Hare assured.
Permanent Secretary in the Transport, Works, and Housing Ministry, Audrey Sewell, in commending the graduates, said the course represents part of the Ministry’s “strategic approach” towards ensuring that the nation’s roads are safe for all users.
In this regard, she said the expertise acquired by the graduates “will help to address the various ills that threaten to derail our road safety efforts.”
Mrs. Sewell also commended the Road Safety Unit for organising the courses, as well as the participants for availing themselves of the training.
“Road safety and its attendant issues affect everybody. And it is against this background that the Ministry..(has) taken a multi-sectoral approach, because we recognize that we cannot do it alone. The recipients of this course will certainly increase our capacity to have Jamaica being among the countries which subscribe to standards consistent with 21st century road safety tenets,” she stated.
Lecturer at the IPTM, Dr. Patrick Robbins described the participants as one of the more “thoroughly (and) completely trained” groups he has ever taught in his 22 years at the Institute.
“It is our hope at IPTM, and certainly my personal hope, that we have assisted, in some fashion, in developing a knowledgeable group of local experts, second to none in the world, in the field of collision reconstruction. And I expect that those individuals, over time, will contribute significantly to traffic safety in Jamaica…and…in turn, will pass the knowledge on to the rest of the island’s drivers, over time,” he said.
For his part, Head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, welcomed the training opportunities provided for his officers and the other participants.
“When I look at the diversity of this cohort, it further confirms in my mind that there is very little that we can achieve (in terms of reducing road fatalities) without partnership. The men and women of the Traffic Division, and even the members who perform other duties, will be working feverishly through high visibility patrols to ensure that we see how best we can curtail what is happening on the streets,” he assured.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, James Golding, who represented Police Commissioner Carl Williams, also in commending the graduates, expressed the hope that “we are going to see the benefits, in short order.”
He, too, commended the course organisers and other stakeholders for recognising the gaps in the national road safety efforts, “and for designing a programme” to address this.
Executive Director of the CMI, Dr. Fritz Pinnock, gave the Institute’s commitment to continued partnership with the Road Safety Unit and other stakeholders to undertake activities that will serve to reduce carnage on the roads.
Course participant, JDF Major, Dervon Lewis, stressed that “it is important, if we are serious about development…in terms of road safety that we engage in this type of training and, in the long run, capacity building t ensure that we can meet our objectives.”