JIS News

The Road Safety Unit, of the Ministry of Transport and Works, has been strengthening its outreach initiatives in Jamaica’s western parishes, including St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover.
This move comes against the background of a marked increase in road accidents and fatalities, that has been occurring across the region over the past nine months, Information and Education Officer at the Unit, Julian Thompson, told JIS News in an interview.
“What we have decided to do is to implement an intermediary measure to tackle this problem,” Mr. Thompson explained. This measure has taken the form of education outreach to Primary and All-age schools. The first set of school tours began on September 29, and has so far taken the Unit’s Education outreach team to some 11 schools in the parish of Hanover, including Esher Primary, Lucea Primary, Bethel Primary and Junior High, Mount Peter Primary, and Sandy Bay All-age.
Mr. Thompson pointed out that these visits form part of the Unit’s efforts to impart to the nation’s children, proper road safety practices. “We have decided to focus on the schools, because we are of the opinion that if we empower the children from this stage, they will grow up to become safe road users,” he said.
Since the start of the year, he reported, Hanover has recorded the fifth highest number of fatal accidents out of a total of 19 divisions. “They have already recorded 14 fatal accidents with 19 deaths, an increase over 2007, when there were 14 fatal accidents with 15 fatalities,” he noted.
Mr. Thompson cited the Unit’s current Road Safety campaign, ‘Project Below 300’, aimed at reducing fatalities in 2008, to a figure under 300. Expressing confidence in the Unit’s ability to achieve this goal, Mr. Thompson pointed out that all categories of road users would have to play their role.
“So far we are on track. However, it will take a more concerted effort from all road users in order for us to hit this target. We need all categories of road users to play their part in being safe on the roads, so that we can tackle this scourge and get the number down,” he appealed.
In November, the Unit will travel to St. James, where they will seek to have similar visits to Primary and All-age institutions throughout the parish, to engage students in interactive activities, such as educational quizzes and games, all geared at road safety.