Acting Director of the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, Deidre Hudson-Sinclair, is calling on parents and guardians to take greater responsibility in ensuring the safety and well-being of their children.
Her call comes in light of statistics that show that 30 per cent of child road fatalities since the beginning of the year took place between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., with 22 per cent occurring during the hours of the curfew imposed by the Government to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Mrs. Hudson-Sinclair, who was addressing the first in a series of Road Safety Talks recently, said there is an expectation that parents will ensure that their children are not on the roads during the no-movement hours.
“If adults and children aren’t allowed on the roadway to be using the network in these particular hours, we have to ask ourselves; why is it that at those hours our children are being left unprotected?” she asked.
“It not only speaks to the lack of security in terms of them being on the roadway but also in terms of the general lack of parental guidance. We have to take a look at how we parent as a people, as citizens and… recognise that we have to safeguard our children, even if they are not our own. We have to be our brother’s keeper and be our children’s keeper as well,” she said.
Mrs. Hudson-Sinclair further pointed out that the parish of St. Catherine accounted for 33 per cent of the total child road fatalities.
She said that notwithstanding the large population of St. Catherine, the fact that a third of these fatalities happened in one parish, is something that the police, the RSU and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) “are taking a look at in terms of how can we help our children in this area”.
Mrs. Hudson-Sinclair said that a further breakdown of the statistics show that pedestrians accounted for the highest number of child road fatalities.
“It’s unfortunate that when our children are using the roadways they are exposed because they are at a particular disadvantage in terms of height, visibility and in particular, because a lot of the schools in the urban areas are actually on main roads,” she pointed out.
“It speaks to our lack of ability as adults in protecting our children, especially when they are traversing large city streets, public streets where taxis and buses and private motor vehicles are engaged,” Mrs. Hudson-Sinclair pointed out further.
She said that an area of growing concern is the transportation of children as pillion passengers.
“We recognise that when children are being transported by motorcyclists, they are at particular risk and, unfortunately, although adults are in charge of their care and protection, they have shown little regard for actually trying to safeguard them on the city streets as well as rural roads,” she stressed.
The series of Road Safety Talks is being hosted by the Ministry in recognition of Road Safety Month in June.