Focus on Health and Safety of Drivers to Reduce Road Fatalities


    Owen Smith, general manager, Jamaica Automobile Association wants Jamaica to adopt the Safe Systems Approach to reduce the level of human errors that contribute to road crashes.

    The approach, which is used in several developed countries, including the United States, among other things, accounts for the role human behaviour plays in road safety. It aims to eliminate fatal and serious injuries for all road users by taking a holistic view of the road system that first, anticipates human mistakes; and second, seeks to reduce the probability of injury to the motor vehicle operator and passengers.

    It comprises five elements safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and post-crash care.

    Owen Smith, general manager, Jamaica Automobile Association

    “I encourage Jamaicans to adopt the Safe Systems Approach because of its focus on the health and safety of our drivers which will ultimately result in less fatalities. When a driver is healthy, he or she is less likely to make errors. This is why the aspect that emphasises safer people is important,” he explained.

    “Countries that adopted the approach in the 1990s showed large [reductions] in [road] deaths between that period and 2017. For example, over a 27-year period, Australia had a 47 per cent drop in road fatalities. New Zealand had 48 per cent reduction; Spain saw an 80 per cent decline while there was a 67 per cent reduction in Sweden,” he stated.

    Mr Smith said the Safe Systems Approach is important, particularly because humans are not infallible.

    “Every user of the road has a part to play in reducing road crashes. People will inevitably make mistakes and are vulnerable to errors. Some groups are more vulnerable than others. For example, transport operators, by virtue of what they do are more at risk, which is why there is need for them to be aware of the Safe Systems Approach,” he added.

    The transport and mobility professional, who was speaking to transport operators at the second Health, Wealth and Safety Expo at the Half Way Tree Transport Centre recently, organised by the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), said transport operators also need to take their health seriously to reduce the possibility of a crash.

    “The health of our drivers falls under the safer people [aspect of the approach] because human error many times play a crucial role in road fatalities. In fact, it has been proven that driving while tired is as similar as driving under the influence. Therefore, a rested driver, who is healthy otherwise is unlikely to make a mistake on our roads,” he stated.

    “For this reason, we encourage our transport operators to adopt a healthy lifestyle while incorporating the safe system approach in their daily lives. I believe that this will benefit our drivers and ultimately the country because it will result in less fatalities and less burden on our health services,” he added.

    Egerton Newman, president of TODSS, said the event was aimed at assisting transport operators to develop a healthy lifestyle overall.

    “This is the second event in this series and we plan to bring it across the island to educate our transport operators about their health, financial planning and road safety. We believe that be spreading this message, they will play their part in reducing road fatalities and easing the burden on our economy by having less persons dying too early whether from non-communicable diseases or road crashes,” he explained.

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