With road crashes involving students occurring with frightening frequency at the entrances to their schools, the administration and students of Staceyville Primary in Clarendon were happy to welcome representatives from the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation and the Traffic Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, when they visited the school, on Wednesday, May 6.
The visit was conducted under the umbrella of the UN’s Global Road Safety Week activities.
Vice Principal of the school, Mr Casuel Pinnock, was visibly distressed, as he explained that a corner close to the entrance of the school made it impossible for motorists to see the students as they crossed the road. As a result, there have been four crashes at the school entrance in the last two years, and one in 2011 was fatal.
In his overview on road safety, Corporal Daniel Bennett of the Road Safety Unit, reminded the students that they should be alert to other road users. “Don’t be distracted by what is happening around you,” he stressed. “Don’t walk and text. Open your eyes, and walk briskly across the road after oncoming vehicles have stopped.”
Carey Lue-Pann, Project Manager of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) Junior Club, which engages students in Road Safety activities, said his organisation was very concerned about the number of crashes on the road, and especially those involving children.
“I see taxi drivers putting children in car trunks, and stopping too carelessly for them to alight safely,” he remarked.
He also explained that countries which have achieved reductions in road traffic deaths have enacted legislation around key factors, such as wearing seat-belts and helmets, drinking and driving, and speeding.
“However, these legislations must be actively enforced by the relevant authorities, if they are to raise the consciousness of citizens, and, thereby reduce the number of accidents and attendant fatalities,” he stated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that some 186,300 young people under 18 years die from road traffic crashes, annually.
During the road safety visit, students participated in a simulation exercise in the school’s courtyard, in which they practised using the pedestrian crossing safely.
Dhenecia Pinnock, a grade six student, said she learned a lot from Corporal Bennett’s tips. “I now understand that I should wear light clothing at night; and, to use the sidewalk whenever it is there. And, I will also hold up my hand to show that I want to cross the street,” she said.
Fellow student, Ricardo Hughes, had a word of wisdom for motorists. “Go slowly and make sure you know what the road signs mean. Don’t disobey the road code,” he implored.
According to the most recent statistics from the Road Safety Unit, record that since January of this year, some 119 adults and five children have died, as a result of road crashes in Jamaica.
The JAA Junior Club is a project to establish clubs in 50 secondary schools across Jamaica in order to promote road safety and proper road use within schools. The project is supported by the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) and JN Foundation, with the assistance of the JN General Insurance Co. Ltd (JNGI), the Ministry of Education and the FIA Foundation. The JAA Junior Clubs in school empowers Jamaican youth to become better road users and expose its membership to the practical and technical aspects of road safety through a combination of mentorship from professionals, presentations from agencies and internal exploration.