The Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), in its effort to raise awareness about road safety and mobility issues among young people, launched the JAA Junior Club in School programme during a ceremony at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston, on Thursday, June 13.
The JAA initiative will be implemented in concert with the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation, in collaboration with JN General Insurance (JNGI) Company Limited, The Ministry of Education, the FIA Foundation and the FIA Road Safety Grant Programme.
Duane Ellis, General Manager of the JAA, said the JAA Junior Clubs will be initially established in 50 high schools across the island, which are located in close proximity to Crash Hot Spots identified by JNGI road safety signs.
“We hope to involve students in promotion and advocacy initiatives for road safety and proper road use, with the hope that they will also adopt these principles in their individual use of the roads, whether as pedestrians or motorists,” he noted.
Mr. Ellis explained that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 10–24 years, a troubling statistic that is of concern to road safety stakeholders in Jamaica.
“Through the JAA Junior Club, we hope to reduce the number and frequency of road crashes and fatalities through improved road user behavior; as well as to increase the awareness of, and interest in mechanical related careers, and raise the level of enthusiasm and participation in the motor sports industry locally,” he maintained.
The establishment of the JAA Junior Clubs also relates to the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety Campaign, which aims to reduce the global loss of life and trauma associated by cutting road crashes in half, by 2020.
Mr. Ellis emphasised that the JAA Junior Club will make “a significant contribution to the Decade of Action campaign, by delivering a programme that aims to create better road safety management, safer cars, safer roads, safer road users, and more effective response mechanisms to crash sites.”
The school-based clubs will be rolled out in participating educational institutions during the school year, starting in September 2013; and, members will be exposed to the practical and technical aspects of road safety through mentorship from professionals. In addition, there will be presentations from road safety agencies, and students will be encouraged to carry out their own research and exploration. The project will be supported by the activities under the “Make it Click” seatbelt campaign, which will sensitise motorists about the importance of seatbelts.