Sprinter Usain Bolt has agreed to serve with the National Road Safety Council’s (NRSC) campaign to help to reduce road fatalities, says Dr. Lucien Jones, NRSC Vice-Chairman.
The NRSC already won the endorsement of celebrities such as Olympic Gold medalist Melanie Walker and motor racer David Summerbell, Jr. last year. It had sought the backing of Mr. Bolt after the triple Olympic gold medalist suffered minor injuries, following a motor car accident along the Vineyard Toll section of Highway 2000, St Catherine in April.
“I want to remind all Jamaicans to be careful on our roads,” Dr. Jones read from a statement supplied to the NRSC by Mr. Bolt. “I give thanks that I have fully recovered.”
Dr. Jones was addressing a NRSC media appreciation function on Thursday. The media function was one element of a NRSC meeting at Jamaica House, chaired by Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
In his statement to the road safety group, the champion sprinter declared his support for the NRSC’s Save 300 Lives Project, which started last year. Launched by Prime Minister Golding, the project aims to lower the number of road deaths below 300 by encouraging road users to obey speed limits, wear seatbelts, and ride motorcycles with helmets and not to drink and drive.
“We did not make our target last year,” Prime Minister Golding said in his address to the function. A total of 341 lives were lost last year in road accidents.
“We are doing better than last year,” the Prime Minister Golding stated. He was however, concerned that, “There have been too may accidents that have involved multiple fatalities.”
Dr. Jones asserted that after 161 days there had been 159 accidents. He explained that the rate needed to be reduced to meet the target.
The accident rate has a substantial negative impact on the economy and the society, added Earl Jarrett, General Manager of Jamaica National Building Society. He pointed out that the country loses millions of dollars annually from the economic output lost as a result of road accidents and injuries.
“We are looking at thousands of Jamaicans whose families have been shattered, income capacities curtailed and individuals who have been severely injured as a result of road accidents,” Mr. Jarrett declared. “Road safety is a developmental issue, and thus requires the input of all facets of society.”
The goal of the Save 300 Lives initiative is simply to save lives by leveraging the resources and reach of private and public sector stakeholders along with the media, Mr. Jarrett stated. “This is why the multi-sectoral approach to addressing the problem is vital.”
Some major new initiatives are being taken to help reduce the number of fatalities on the road, the Prime Minister said. These are intended to get the road users aware of the dangers they face, the responsibilities they have, and the importance of proper road use.
The Prime Minister declared that it was “not appropriate at this stage,” to discuss details of the initiatives, but said the NRSC would next be meeting at the end of July.
Among the media houses the Prime Minister provided special awards for their support of the NRSC were The Gleaner and Power 106 FM.