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Story Highlights

  • This includes the piloting of a new Road Traffic Bill in Parliament “that will address modern challenges that compromise our safety, at times.”
  • 219 road fatalities recorded from approximately 194 accidents occurring up to September 25 this year.
  • ITA will be empowered “to suspend or annul the license of the drivers.”

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, says the Ministry remains committed to making the nation’s roads safer for all users.

This effort, he assures, includes the piloting of a new Road Traffic Bill in Parliament “that will address modern challenges that compromise our safety, at times.”

He gave this undertaking against the background of the 219 road fatalities recorded from approximately 194 accidents occurring up to September 25 this year.

Speaking at Friday’s (September 27) launch of the Ministry’s three-month islandwide road safety campaign at the Half Way Tree Transport Centre in St. Andrew, Dr. Guy, who has oversight for road safety, said the proposed legislation will entail limiting the use of cell phones and other in-car devices while driving. It will also include stiffer penalties for breaches of the road code; certification of driving instructors who, in turn, will teach a standardized curriculum as part of a new graduated licensing system which will see drivers being licensed in phases.

Additionally, the Minister said the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) will be restructured  and fully empowered “as that agency of the Ministry will have the remit to suspend or annul the license of the drivers.”

Dr. Guy said the number of road accidents occurring this year, to date, brings into sharp focus a “gripping and tragic crisis” across the nation. He lamented that “we are seeing our streets washed with the blood of our people as a result of road crashes.”

“It has become an all too familiar occurrence for us; we have become desensitized to the graphic images. No longer do we gasp at the news of a road accident, injury or a fatality. Rather, many of us are more bent  on capturing the images on our phones and uploading them to social media for circulation and brief commentary. We have seemingly resigned ourselves to the fate that this is just a part of the Jamaican reality,” the Minister observed.

Giving a breakdown of the 219 road fatalities over the first nine months of  the year, Dr. Guy informed that 68 were pedestrians; 30 private motor vehicle drivers; 39  motor car passengers; 34  motorcyclists; six public passenger vehicle (PPV) drivers; 15 passengers in buses and taxis; 18 pedal cyclists; seven pillion passengers; and  22  students.

“This Ministry is only too mindful of the magnitude of accidents on our thoroughfares and is expecting to see a decrease in road crashes and fatalities, once the Bill is enacted,” Dr. Guy stated.

The road safety campaign is being undertaken as part of the Ministry’s efforts to further heighten awareness across the nation of the need for persons to exercise caution and responsible behaviour while using the roads.

The initiative, being executed under the theme: Walk, Ride and Drive for Life”, kicks off in Kingston on September 28, and will see four road shows being held across the island featuring performances and appearances by several artistes and personalities including  Voicemail, Tanya Stephens, Roy Rayon and Jennifer ‘Jenni Jenni’ Small.

The campaign culminates with the final road show in Mandeville Manchester on December 14.