Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Paula Fletcher grows into road safety passion

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2015 | 12:00 AMChad Bryan
Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council.
Alexander Hue (left) shows Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council, how to operate a motorcycle. Looking on are Alphanso Grennell (right), managing director of Grennell’s Driving School; Hugh Reid (second right), president of Insurance Association of Jamaica; and Deputy Superintendent Courtney Coubrie (second left). They were at the official opening ceremony of the 5th Annual Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on June 15, 2013.
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In honour of today's International Women's Day, Automotives features Paula Fletcher, a familiar face in our pages in her role as executive director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC). However, there is much more to her than the woman who keeps a keen eye on road safety - after all, this is a person whose horticulture at home literally stops traffic.

Paula Fletcher's name is automatically associated with road safety. However, initially the NRSC executive director did not envision herself being

at an organisation primarily concerned with reducing motor vehicle crash injuries and death.

"It has been a professional path that was unexpected. It was certainly not where I thought I was going. But, having been engaged in it, it opened me to the possibilities of really having a strong impact on life and the quality of life and the development of a country," Fletcher said.

The wife and mother of four children holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Finance. She put in an application for a position at an organisation and was surprised at what turned up.

"Having finished the MBA, I was amazed, because the position was not specified. I would not have applied had I known it was road safety, because at the time I didn't know anything about road safety," said Fletcher, who has been with the NRSC since 1996.

At the time she started with the organisation it was chaired by the late Professor Sir John Golding, who Fletcher told that she was not qualified in the area.

 

OFF TO SWEDEN

 

"Apparently, he thought otherwise. I was given the job and immediately sent away to Sweden for a month doing intensive training. It was a highly trained staff, most of them holders of PhDs. When I came out of that I was fully exposed, immersed and entrenched in the language, thinking, philosophy and best practices," she said.

Fletcher said Sweden has single-digit road fatalities.

"It was there I was exposed to the 'E' strategies. It is under this that we would have intervention - education, engineering, enforcement, emergency response and evaluation. I was inspired to come back home and look at where we were as a country under these five 'Es' and, out of this, came a proposal I put together for a national road safety policy for Jamaica," Fletcher stated.

Among the numerous other road-safety initiatives Fletcher has had a hand in, she holds work done on the Spirit Licence Act as very dear to her. Through the NRSC, she made representation to the Ministry of Justice to devise a recommendation preventing underage drinking and driving.

One of Fletcher's greatest challenges is the long time changes take to be implemented. "I work in collaboration with others and things take a long time to be enacted," she pointed out However, her passion to serve outweighs this drawback.

When not engaged in road safety Fletcher, who has six grandchildren, is immersed in her family and enjoys gardening. She is an avid gardener and has an affinity for orchids, which people often stop to admire. Fletcher is particular about what she eats, although she has a passion for the palate.

She also attends dance classes and is fond of contemporary dancing.