Road safety stakeholders in Jamaica are hoping to see major improvements in the country’s safety record when the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013 is published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday, March 14.
Jamaica was one of 178 countries which provided information to the inaugural report that was published in 2009 and presented a baseline assessment of Road Safety globally.
The 2009 report noted that more than 1.3 million people died on the world’s roads every year, with some 90% of these deaths occurring in low and middle income countries, such as Jamaica.
Duane Ellis, General Manager of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), explained that the global status reports will serve as tools for monitoring the impact of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011- 2020 Campaign.
“The goal of the Decade of Action campaign is to stabilise; and then reduce the forecast level of traffic deaths around the world,” Mr. Ellis explained, “and the overall aim is to reduce road fatalities worldwide to 50% or less, by 2020.”
Data from the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Works revealed that Jamaica has achieved a steady decline in the number of road fatalities during the past decade, and fell below the 300 mark in 2012, to 260, for the first time since 1999.
In response, the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) has established a new road safety target to reduce road deaths to less than 240 from 2013 to 2016, and encourage the continued reduction in road deaths.
“While we are pleased with the declines, scaling up of efforts will be paramount to ensure that we maintain the gains of last year, into the decade,” Mr. Ellis emphasized.
He stated that, changes to the Road Traffic Act, which are expected to be rolled out during 2013, should help in advancing efforts to counter the high accident and fatality rates.
“It will also be important for enforcement measures to be improved, particularly relating to speed limits, drinking and driving, wearing of motor cycle helmets and driving distractions such as cell phone use, among others,” he maintained.
Mr. Ellis also implored pedestrians to be mindful of their responsibility in road safety, as their actions often contribute to road crashes.
“Pedestrians must observe the rules of the road to ensure not only their own safety, but that of other road users,” he affirmed.