Summer safety blend
Executive chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Paula Fletcher, is optimistic that the new road traffic bill will be passed by August this year.
"It should be going back to the House (Parliament) very shortly for what we hope will be the final debate on it before it is passed. We should have something in place, hopefully, by August of this year. We should have a new Road Traffic Act," Fletcher told Automotives.
She also indicated a slate of activities that the NRSC will be a part of as summer approaches. It is a period of parties and heightened traffic, which often leads to increased accidents. Among the safety activities are the Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo, which took place yesterday at Mandela Park in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew.
There, the NRSC had giveaways and sensitised persons on road safety matters. It was the first time that this location was used for the expo and its accessibility and normally high pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the surrounding roads was a critical factor as the organisers seek for maximum reach.
The NRSC is also planning an extended partnership with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).
"We will have, in June, a partnership with the JCDC for the first time, apart from the poster competition. We have partnered with them to have the subject of road safety to come under their creative writing segment. We are pleased with the entries we have got. We will be part of that awards ceremony on June 12," Fletcher said.
RAMPING UP CAMPAIGN
The NRSC executive chairman added that their Internet campaign to spread the road safety message is also being ramped up. "We are going to be increasing the effort to have social media be the engine to engage the Jamaican public," Fletcher stated.
With the high volume of parties being planned for the summer, Fletcher said the message for partygoers is not to drink and drive. This will be backed by the law.
"We have been involved in discussions with the Ministry of Justice and have been discussing the review of the Spirit Licence Act. The age-verification process has started; people must show ID to prove that they are of the age that can buy and consume alcohol. We are encouraging party promoters, drink companies that they keep up that messaging," she said.
With regard to the more than 150 persons who have died in motor vehicle crashes since the start of the year, Fletcher said the figure is troubling in comparison to 116 in 2013, and 137 in 2014 around this same period.
In addition, 46 were motorcyclists and 37 pedestrians.
Fletcher said the number of motorcyclists not wearing helmets, particularly in the western end of the island, is very worrying.