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  • A safety audit will be conducted on all new road projects to be undertaken in the island.
  • Speaking at the launch of a road safety campaign at the Transport Centre in Kingston, today (February 17), Minister with responsibility for Housing in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, said the outcome from the audit will be incorporated in the design of the roads.
  • Dr. Guy explained that this forms part of the strategy of the Ministry to provide proper infrastructure that will benefit all users of the island’s road network, particularly the most vulnerable.

A safety audit will be conducted on all new road projects to be undertaken in the island.

Speaking at the launch of a road safety campaign at the Transport Centre in Kingston, today (February 17), Minister with responsibility for Housing in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, said the outcome from the audit will be incorporated in the design of the roads.

Dr. Guy explained that this forms part of the strategy of the Ministry to provide proper infrastructure that will benefit all users of the island’s road network, particularly the most vulnerable.

“We will take into special consideration, the disabled community, the children, and the elderly. The Ministry will ensure that going forward, the disabled community will have proper facilities, just as the able bodied road users,” he emphasised.

The Minister said that despite improvements and the latest features in vehicles to improve road safety, the drivers and operators of those vehicles must play a greater role in ensuring that fatalities are minimised.

“The figures at as December 31, 2014 are alarming and a serious cause for concern, standing at 330 fatalities on our roads, and interestingly there 35 fatalities since the start of the year. These figures give a clear indication that avoidance technology alone cannot work; the onus rests with the drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, all of whom must be vigilant in their use of the road,” he said.

Dr. Guy pointed out that last year, 31 per cent of the fatalities resulted from speeding. He urged Jamaicans to obey the prescribed speed limits and wear the necessary safety devices, such as seatbelts and helmets.

The Minister said pedestrian fatalities continue to be of significant concern, pointing out that in 2014, a total of 99 persons died as a result of improper use of the roads. He implored pedestrians to utilize the areas that have been designated for them, such as sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and the overhead bridges.

He said that under the proposed Road Traffic Act, which is currently before Parliament, a number of new penalties and rules are being proposed, aimed at reducing road crashes and fatalities.

Among the proposed changes are: increased penalties for breaches of the road code; mandatory training and certification of motor vehicle driving instructors; a longer period for holding a learner’s permit, with new conditions attached; curtailing the use of electronic hand-held devices while driving; and increased powers for the Island Traffic Authority.

In his remarks, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, urged motorists and pedestrians to use the nation’s roads more responsibly. He said that statistics have shown that the majority of persons admitted to health centres as a result of road crashes are between the ages of 20 and 29. He added that this is followed by persons in the age group 10 to 19.

“When you take that into consideration, what it is saying is that our most productive citizens often times are the ones who are the victims of road crashes,” he said.

The Minister added that traffic accidents account for a large portion of persons at the nation’s health facilities, and also impact negatively on the families and the productive sector of a country.

He congratulated members of the Road Safety Unit for the work they have been doing as it relates to public education and legislation.

The World Health Organization estimates that by 2020, the number of projected fatalities will be close to 1.9 million.

“The IDB has also done work that shows that at least 3,000 persons are dying daily from road crashes and another 50 million are either disabled partially or fully,” the Minister said.

Executive Director, National Road Safety Council, Paula Fletcher, said that the figures to date indicate that the country is “not doing very well.”

The road safety campaign is being held under the theme: ‘Live Road Safety…Reap the Rewards’.

 

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