Save Kids Lives the priority
Jamaica's road-safety advocates are making an especially emphatic call to protect the lives of children, as the United Nations recognises May 4 - 10 as the third Global Road Safety Week. The Jamaican schedule of events was launched at the ATL Autohaus showroom located at 3 Oxford Road, St Andrew, on Thursday morning, and is under the theme 'Save Kids Lives'.
There is a Save Kids' Lives hashtag on social media website Twitter.
"As we approach the start of Child Month, we are very aware of, and deeply concerned about, the increase in deaths among our nation's children. We lose too many children to road fatalities every year. Road safety is a major area of concern and focus. It remains top priority for action because year after year many of our people, including our children, are killed," said Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, keynote speaker, who is chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC).
"When we look at the statistics, children figure prominently enough in road crashes. And especially as pedestrians, they are vulnerable road users. Motorists have an outer protection; our children, as pedestrians, they are unprotected. Children are also at risk on the road. We are talking to schools, the parents and principals," said executive director of the NRSC, Paula Fletcher.
A number of other speakers emphasised the importance of children's safety on the roads.
Citing grim statistics, director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Kenute Hare, stated that every three minutes, a child is killed on the global road network. That translates into more than 500 children being killed daily and tens of thousands being injured worldwide.
Hare further pointed out that motorists, especially those operating taxis, should desist from carrying children in the trunks of motor vehicles.
Pointing to local statistics, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of Operations, Clifford Blake, who spoke on behalf of Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams, said so far this year, there have been 124 road fatalities, nine of those killed being children. In addition, Blake pointed out that 3,147 motorcyclists have been prosecuted for not wearing a helmet, 1,735 of them from Westmoreland, St James and St Elizabeth.
The character Grover from Sesame Street has been designated Road Safety Ambassador as part of the United Nations Decade of Action on Road Safety. He will be travelling to schools in the western end of the island, parts of which are known hotspots for motor vehicle crashes.
A series of advertisements have also been created for the Save Kids Lives campaign. These feature sprinter Yohan Blake, race car drivers Kyle Reynolds and Matthew Gore and recording artistes Denyque and Tarrus Riley.
Jeffery 'Agent Sasco' Campbell and Tessanne Chin contributed their voices to a road-safety jingle.