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  • State Minister Buchanan is appealing to Jamaicans to make road safety a habit for life.
  • Data from the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) indicate that since the start of the year 140 persons have died on the nation’s roads.
  • Among the road crashes, 45 were pedestrians and seven children, with most of the fatalities occurring between 9:00 a.m. and midday.

Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Primary Health Care Infrastructure, Hon. Luther Buchanan is appealing to Jamaicans to make road safety a habit for life.

Data from the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) indicate that since the start of the year 140 persons have died on the nation’s roads. This is 16 more than the corresponding period last year, and 31 more than in 2012.

Among the road crashes, 45 were pedestrians and seven children, with most of the fatalities occurring between 9:00 a.m. and midday. Speeding also continues to be the main factor in fatal motor vehicle crashes, followed by pedestrian error.

Speaking at the third staging of the National Road Safety Poster Competition awards ceremony at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Thursday, June 5, Mr. Buchanan said the cost of road crashes is burdening the health sector and critically affects productivity.

“Accidents and intentional injuries account for a large portion of persons that we see at our hospitals. This puts a strain on the capacity of our doctors to deliver care effectively. One accident can result in hours of surgery and tie up a doctor and an operating theatre for hours impacting care to others in need,” he said.

Mr. Buchanan added that road traffic crashes result in the victim losing approximately 28 years of potential productive life.

He urged pedestrians to be extremely cautious on the roads as the NRSC has indicated that many accidents are caused by, the unsafe use of roadways by pedestrians.

“I believe as drivers we have a duty of care to look out for pedestrians especially children by observing proper road etiquette and as pedestrians we have a similar duty to use the roads responsibly by practicing safety measures,” he said.

He noted that according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), fatalities on the world’s roads equate to more than 3,000 deaths per day globally. The IDB estimates that there are an additional 50 million physical injuries that result in partial or total disability.

“It is estimated that by 2015 road traffic crashes will become one of the main causes of premature deaths and physical disability in persons five years and older,” he said.
Highlighting the significance of the competition, he said it will inculcate proper road safety values and attitudes in children, which will result in positive lifestyles and future productivity.

“I am always happy when young persons are involved in issues of great national interest such as this and note that we started the competition’s eligibility from as early as six years old,” he said.

He applauded the NRSC for the work it has undertaken over the years and particularly in 2012, when the number of road fatalities was below 300.

“Last year it was a little above the 300 mark, which is still too much in my view. Despite reaching over 120 fatalities so far this year, I am still confident that we can remain under 300, and hope that this particular intervention and the others being undertaken by the NRSC will push us closer to achieving this goal,” he said.

A total of 28 students out of 53 entries were recognised for their artistic work on road safety during this year’s competition, under the theme: ‘Pedestrian Safety-Our Responsibility’.

The overall winners of the competition were: Taeija Lee Hall Watts of Stella Maris Preparatory in the six to nine years category; Michael Gunn of Corinaldi Avenue Primary in the 10 to 14 years; and Mishawn Chin-See of Wolmer’s Girls in the 15 to 19 years category.