Speech

Today, we join with millions of people around the world, to commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.
This day, which is commemorated on the third Sunday of November, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, in recognition of the need to appropriately acknowledge these persons and their bereaved families. Today marks the second year of the commemoration of this day in Jamaica.
World Remembrance Day is a time to pause to remember our families, friends and acquaintances who have either been lost or injured in a road crash. It is a time to engage in activities, which will help to raise public awareness of the gravity and consequences of these mishaps. In so doing, it is my sincere hope that it will engender a resolve by all of us, as road users, to engage in habits and practices which will ensure our safety and well being.
Globally, road crashes claim approximately 1.2 million lives per year and seriously injure 20-50 million people per year. I am disheartened to know that every three minutes a child dies on the world’s roads.
Road crashes are the second leading cause of premature death and ill health worldwide – the first being HIV/AIDS. If this trend continues, road crashes could overtake HIV/AIDS, to become the leading contributor to the global burden of disease and injury.
In Jamaica, we have our own sad recounts about loved ones lost and injured on our roadways. Many families and homes have been torn apart as a result of road crashes. Even if you or your family has not been directly affected; road crashes and its dire consequences should be of concern to all of us.
Road crashes in Jamaica show our males to be at risk, as well as vulnerable road users, particularly pedestrians, many of whom are young children and the elderly. As a country, we have made some gains in reducing road fatalities. Unfortunately, it has proven quite challenging to sustain these gains.
Crashes are catastrophic, not only at the family and community levels, but also at the national level, in terms of lost production and human potential. They burden our already limited hospital resources and create an unnecessary barrier to our development and success as a nation. In our national context, this is an extremely unproductive way to use our scarce resources, which we could otherwise redirect to critical sectors.
We all have a duty of care, and a vested interest to seek to improve this grave situation on our roads. As Chairman of the National Road Safety Council, I am committed to taking steps to undertake the finalization of various initiatives which seek to make quality improvements to road safety.
The theme for the observance of World Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims is ‘Have a Heart, Make Peace in Traffic.” This theme is most appropriate, as it squarely focuses on the role of the human element and its impact on safety on our roadways. It calls on us to show care, love and courtesy to each other. It reminds us that our safety is mainly one of personal responsibility.
I am concerned, as I am sure many of you are, by the indiscipline and reckless behaviour being displayed by some road users. I appeal to all of us to exercise due care on our roadways. We must join together to awaken the true Jamaican spirit which can take us to great heights.
My wish is that as Jamaicans, we will grow to be gentler, one to another. We must hope for the softening of our hearts and minds. We must hope for peace in all aspects of our lives. Life is too precious, and the suffering too great when we lose our loved ones in a violent way, whether it be on the roads or otherwise.On this World Day of Remembrance for Crash Victims, as we remember our loved ones and grieving families, let it be our commitment to “make road safety a way of life.”

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