The Inter-Parish Road Safety Competition launched by the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) in September 2009, is well underway, according to Paula Fletcher, Executive Director of the NRSC.“We are working to instill a sense of individual and community responsibility for the safety of all persons who use the roads,” Mrs. Fletcher explains.
To achieve this, the NRSC and competition sponsors Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) are collaborating with key stakeholders at the parish level to assist in getting the road safety message out to the public in order to promote good road user behaviour.
“We are working closely with the Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Police force and several concerned Mayors, Custodes and civilians; some of whom are represented on specially designated parish committees.
The committees, she says, have been set up to help mobilize groups of people around the cause and provide tangible on-the-ground support.”
Additionally, a series of road shows are being staged in select high-risk parishes during October and November to boost the existing media messages, which feature Olympian Melaine Walker.
“Linstead and Portmore in St. Catherine were our first stops at the end of October and we will continue to carry the message “Speed Kills, Slow Down and Save Lives,” Mrs. Fletcher said.
The Executive Director reports that since the beginning of this year, 277 persons have lost their lives as a result of road collisions.
She pointed out that most crashes in Jamaica result from reckless behaviour and the poor judgment of drivers who disregard the road code by speeding, careless overtaking and generally failing to observe road signs and signals.
“Innocent lives continue to be snuffed out or are reduced to a debilitating way of existence for those who sustain and never fully recover from their injuries. We can still keep road fatalities below 300 this year, but it will require a serious and concerted effort on the part of all road users,” she added.
The fourteen parishes are contending for a prize of a quarter of a million dollars to fund a community enhancement project.
Leon Mitchell, Executive for Marketing, Promotions and Sales at JNBS emphasized that the Society is “committed is to assist in heightening awareness about proper road practices with the aim of saving lives.”
“Our efforts are geared at changing the attitudes and behaviours of motorists and pedestrians by raising awareness. We are paying special attention to drivers of private motor vehicles and encourage the police officers to consistently employ a zero-tolerance approach to bad driving. We must place more value on the sanctity of human life,” he concluded.
The parish that is able to garner the highest reduction in road fatalities between September and December 2009 will emerge the winner of the Inter-Parish Road Safety Competition. The Competition ends in December 2009.
The drive is on. Which parish will be Jamaica’s safest?