JIS News

A donation of $358,275 was made to the Road Safety Unit, in the Ministry of Transport and Works, during a ceremony at the Ministry’s headquarters, today (Oct. 16), by the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), which will assist with the input of data for traffic accidents.
This donation will benefit 15 HEART Trust/NTA Data Entry Operations students, who will be employed for two months, to enter data for approximately 14,000 of the 21,000 accidents, which took place over the period 2005 to 2006. The project, which began last month (Sept.), should be completed by November 14.
Director for the Road Safety Unit, Kenute Hare, noted that the data input programme is in keeping with the Unit’s mandate, to maintain an automotive traffic accident database for the input, processing and retrieval of accident data. The Unit also provides routine and impromptu reports.
Mr. Hare noted that the programme, being undertaken in collaboration with the JAA, is very important, “because we are looking at providing the nation with proper, more in depth analysis of crash data, and also to ensure that the relevant stakeholders who are affected by road safety, will have access to information, so that they will be able to make their necessary strategic decisions.”
The Director noted further that getting all the data in, will assist the Unit to ensure that the roadways that are fixed, are the ones that really need attention. “Also, it will ensure that the road users that we need to target in terms of providing quality public education, we will have all the information to provide to the public,” he said.
He added that by December, “we should start looking at the data to carry out analysis of that data, which in effect, will allow us to have access to some international funding.coming through the United Nations Road Safety Programme, and other international programmes that we could benefit from.”
The Director said that the unit was working towards reducing the number of road fatalities to below 300 for this year. Currently, there have been 249 fatalities since the start of the year.
In addition, the Unit will be embarking on a public education campaign for the Christmas period, which will commence on December 1 and will run until January 12. It will focus on the positive rehabilitation of all road users, with emphasis on motorists.
Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Henry, in thanking the JAA, called for more persons to join the Association, “because I think it’s a worthwhile organisation that protects us while we are on the road.”
He noted that the statistics for traffic accidents in Jamaica “are lacking in many ways, and therefore, I would like to laud all those involved in the JAA, for this donation, which…is benefitting some HEART trainees, and is being linked to the development of the statistics that is vey much required in terms of what we are seeking to achieve.”
Mr. Henry re-emphasised the need for literacy in driving, which not only speaks to reading and writing words, but being able to identify road signs and symbols. “Indeed, we are sadly lacking in that in many ways, and is part of the reformation that is taking place, within the writing of some of the laws of Jamaica,” he said, while noting that the Ministry is also addressing the needs of the physically challenged who want to be drivers.
“We have asked for the training exercise in respect to dealing with those who are deaf; we are looking to speed that up,” Mr. Henry said, pointing out that the Ministry was also looking at helping dyslexic persons who drive.
Meanwhile, President of the JAA, Alan Beckford, noted that “this programme is something that unfortunately for a few years we had neglected in Jamaica, in that we weren’t collating the road traffic data in a manner that we should have been doing.”
He said that the Association came on board to see how they could assist with the risk assessment of roads in Jamaica, and were able to source the funding being a member of the International Automobile Federation, (FIA), which has a partnership with the International Road Assessment Programme.
“At the end of the day, what we will be trying to do, is get more funding, and the last step of this programme, is to do physical assessments of the roads,” he added.
The JAA is a motoring club that provides emergency roadside assistance services for its members island-wide.