Road Safety Unit Director Urges Jamaicans to ‘Buckle Up’
Nearly 100 percent of persons thrown from motor cars during Jamaican traffic collisions are killed.
The startling statistic was revealed by Mr. Paul Clemetson, Senior Director in the Road Safety Unit at the Ministry of Transport and Works, who was speaking at the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation and Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) ‘Road Safety is No Accident’ Advocacy Forum at the St. Gabriel’s Church Hall in May Pen, on October 29.
The Advocacy Forum follows on the JAA’s support of the first United Nations Global Road Safety Week observed in April this year, and is part of a sustained JAA campaign to increase road safety awareness among Jamaicans. The event addressed issues including defensive driving, eco driving and fuel conservation.
Mr. Clemetson, who spoke to Defensive Driving, pointed out that many of these fatalities, and the overwhelming major of other incidences which cause death on the roads, can be prevented with the use seatbelts or other safety devices.
“International research has proven that seatbelts may reduce traffic fatalities by approximately forty-five percent,” he stated, “this means if more Jamaicans observed road code, wore their seat belts and helmets, we could lessen the number of people who die in traffic crashes each year.”
In responding to questions from the audience, Mr. Clemetson revealed that the Unit is currently developing a manual for driving instructors and a learner drivers’ guide.
“With the practice of some simple defensive driving tactics, each Jamaican driver can reduce the probability of being involved in a traffic crash. All road users must be aware and proactive when using the road,” Mr. Clemetson asserted.
He highlighted several road safety tips, which were endorsed by Deputy Superintendent of Police Patrick Murdock, who has oversight for Operations in May Pen, Clarendon.
DSP Murdock revealed that although road traffic fatalities were trending down in the parish, too many lives were being lost on the roads.
“When compared to the corresponding period last year, there has been a nearly 50% decline in traffic fatalities in Clarendon. This decline can be attributed to the increase in police traffic patrols along the Nineteen Mile to Clarendon Park danger zone,” he told the audience.
“To date, St. James has recorded the highest number of traffic fatalities with 43 fatal collisions resulting in 54 deaths. Although, Clarendon is on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of reported deaths, we can reduce these fatalities even further since most collisions are avoidable” the DSP emphasised.
Also speaking at the event, Alan Beckford, JAA General Manager noted that the automobile club has a sustained Road Safety Awareness campaign to educate Jamaicans about road safety habits.
“Every hour, more than 3,000 persons die worldwide from traffic collisions. It is a global problem that has serious impact on productivity. Our local statistics, while not as high as some other developing countries, are proving a strain on Jamaica’s limited resources,” Mr. Beckford said.
He disclosed that some 500,000 “Think Before You Drive” booklets outlining road safety techniques are being distributed in a bid to promote road safety.
“We believe that public education is the first step in bringing about positive changes in the attitudes of Jamaicans to road use. This Advocacy forum is another initiative in our public education efforts,” Mr. Beckford stated.
Ruth Jankee, JNBS Foundation General Manager noted that the Advocacy forum was also an avenue to facilitate community involvement in the development of policy and plans for issues which impact on Jamaicans.
“The Foundation promotes rural re-generation through advocacy, and events like this forum will allow community members to share practical ideas on these issues. For instance, the Hanover Advocacy Forum focused on unemployment which was a major concern for a number of Hanoverians,” Mrs. Jankee stated.