With less than 4 months to go in the 2011 calendar year, the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) is seeking to consolidate its road safety educational programme aimed at motorists across the island.
This follows data released by the Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport and Works, which indicates that at the end of August, fatal crashes have decreased by 11% when compared to the same period in 2010. This trend was also reflected in road fatality data at the end of August 2011 which showed marginal improvement with 200 deaths, compared to 206 in the previous year.
“These figures are promising as they indicate a downward trend in fatal crashes over the past three years,” says Duane Ellis, General Manager of the JAA. He said that the data provided the Association with renewed impetus to carry out its programme to promote responsible motoring among its members.
“Speeding is a common element in most crashes,” Mr. Ellis stated. “When speeding is combined with bad driving habits, such as improper overtaking and disregard for other road users such as pedestrians, the results can be catastrophic.”
He pointed out that motorists needed to be more aware of the risks of improper road usage; because the results of their errors go beyond those immediately involved in each incident. Motor vehicle crashes cost the Jamaican health sector some $2 billion dollars in 2010, absorbing resources that are desperately needed for other aspects of healthcare.
In May, the JAA was actively involved in the worldwide launch of the drive to cut road fatalities in half by 2020 under the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety campaign, Mr. Ellis stated. That campaign is being implemented based on the five pillars of Road Safety management, Safer Roads and mobility, Safer vehicles, Safer road users and Post Crash Response.
The JAA General Manager said the Auto Club, in support of the Decade of Action, has taken its advocacy efforts for safer road users to the Dover Raceway where Association representatives provide information about the UN Decade of Action initiative to patrons during major motor racing meets.
Dover racing meets also provide opportunities to focus on the use of safer vehicles. He stated that the JAA also provided team members to act as Scrutineers at the Independence of Speed event held on August 6 and 7. “The Scrutineer is part of the team that ensures that all vehicles entering competitions meet the relevant regulations.
The Auto Club has also sought to build awareness of the importance of safer vehicles with the staging of its quarterly Auto Clinic, the Autofest expo. Held at its Central Avenue headquarters, the most recent of these events took place last June.
“We collaborated with the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ) to expose our members and the general motoring public to the various elements of effective road use, while providing vehicle care services at no cost to the participants,” Mr Ellis pointed out.
The auto club is also involved in safety initiatives through its Road Safety Programme for Schools which is undertaken in concert with the Traffic Department of the Jamaica Constabulary Force; on its website and Facebook page, and through its monthly E-Newsletter to members.