Motorcyclists have overtaken pedestrians as the most vulnerable road users in Jamaica with road fatalities increasing by almost 100% since the start of the year. And, the Police Traffic Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is imploring motorbike riders to exercise more discipline.
Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, head of the Traffic Division, says that since January some 83 motorcyclists have died on the country’s roadways, almost doubling the 42, who perished in 2014. This shows a dramatic increase when compared with pedestrians deaths which, to date, stand at 65 in 2015, a reduction from the 81 deaths recorded during the same period in 2014.
He lamented that, “The continued lack of discipline on roadways by motorcyclists and the non-wearing of protective helmets are major contributing factors to the sharp increase in the number of deaths among this group of road users.
The Senior Superintendent made this disclosure while addressing the official launch of the Police in Schools Programme, which was held at the Mavisville Preparatory School in Vineyard Town, Kingston, on Tuesday, September 29.
The programme is implemented by the Traffic Division in partnership with the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) and the Jamaica National Building Society (JN) Foundation
The Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing is anticipating a 25% increase in the number of road fatalities for motorcyclists in 2015 over 2014; and, SSP Allen noted that there are too many motorcyclists, who currently lack the training necessary to operate their vehicles safely; and, are putting themselves and others at risk.
“The new Road Traffic Act will seek to address that situation; because, as it is now, a person can simply go to the Internal Revenue Department, take out a learners’ license and they are on their way driving,” he explained.
However, he explained that under the new Act, “Persons will now go through the formal process of being properly trained to operate a motorcycle; and, we hope that training will contribute to riders being more aware of the rules of the road and how to maneuver on our roadways.”
SSP Allen said the Police in Schools Programme continues to bolster the efforts of the Division to increase road safety awareness among the youngest road users.
Stephen Reid, Marketing Officer with the JAA, speaking on behalf of JAA general manager, Duane Ellis, said that the Association’s support of the Police in Schools Programme is part of its commitment “to the United Nation’s Decade of Action for Road Safety, which aims to reduce global road traffic deaths by 50% by year 2020.”
Carey LuePann, Project Manager of the JN Foundation’s Road Safety Programme, pointed out that support is provided to the Traffic Division with the demonstration of interactive road safety methods to students.
“We have also developed and are using an instructional video as part of the awareness building segment of the programme. In addition, our team also accompanies the Traffic Division’s team to encourage students to put into practice the lessons they are taught,” he maintained.