Fri | Jan 20, 2017

Keep Christmas Accident-Free

Published:Sunday | December 25, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Beeston and Hanover streets in June 2016.
Data from the police traffic division showed that up to last Thursday, Jamaica had recorded 335 road fatalities, five more that the 330 for the corresponding period last year and well ahead of the 278 in 2014.
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The Police Traffic Division has put in place several mechanisms to monitor the nation's roads as the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) calls for a CRASH- FREE CHRISTMAS.

"We will have personnel on the roads leading to and from all major events to carry out effective traffic policing. We know that people love to have fun and enjoy themselves as they celebrate the season, but do so responsibly and with due consideration for others. The police will be out there, and we will be vigilant in watching and dealing with traffic offenders," said Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, head of the Police Traffic Division.

Dr Lucien Jones, vice chairman/convenor of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) said that over the years, crashes have caused a number of families to lose their loved ones during the Christmas season, making the New Year painful for those left behind. Too many times, this is the reality in the midst of what is a celebratory start to the New Year. For those with loved ones injured, it is also a difficult period.

"A lot of the crashes are caused by those going about without due care for themselves and other users of the road and hurrying to get to their destination and not driving in accordance with the road traffic rules and regulations," Jones said. "Let us work towards a crash-free Christmas."

 

Zero-tolerance

 

Police operations, the breathalyzer programme, the traffic band system, and zero-tolerance strategies are in full effect islandwide. Allen said that so far this year, there had been (up to time of writing) 412,558 tickets issued, of which 15,048 were speeding tickets; 8,713 vehicles seized; 1,393 motorcycles seized; 4,536 registration plates removed from defective vehicles; 3,148 warrants executed; 13,321 summons served; 2,820 persons arrested; 2,591 offensive weapons seized.

"We have introduced operations what have been very successful and will continue to intensify them," said Allen. "The breathalyzer programme is ongoing and will also be intensified during the holidays. People tend to consume more alcoholic beverages during this time and oftentimes get behind a steering wheel to drive despite warnings to refrain from doing so."

The traffic band system - which covers the hours between midnight and dawn when persons who visit places of entertainment will be on the road-will be a critical time for ramped-up traffic-policing activities. Allen warned: "We have a responsibility as the traffic arm of the force to encourage and enforce safe use of the roads, and we will have zero tolerance for unruly road users who disregard the rules of the road. You will see an intensification of road policing along all corridors. We will be carrying out spot checks, speed checks, breathalyzer tests, and night operations to see if vehicles have the requisite headlights, rear lights, and reflectors.

Allen noted that the zero-tolerance programme started in May this year in collaboration with the Island Traffic Authority, resulting in a drastic reduction of road fatalities across the island during that period. "This initiative was conducted islandwide, so the desired effect was achieved, and we will be making a deliberate push to continue this with extensive work in all areas of road traffic policing."

The reduction was also contributed to by the work of other agencies in lowering motorcycle deaths, which also involved the participation of the police.

 

More police

 

In addition, Allen revealed that all administrative offices across the country are being scaled down to get more police out to tend to the safety of Jamaicans and to boost operations at critical points, including plazas and roadways. "During the month of December into early January, except for persons who have very serious extenuating circumstancs, the service regulations require that no leave is approved during the holidays, so the police will be out in their numbers."

Allen warned: "You will notice our increased presence on the road, so we are pleading with all road users to comply with the rules of the road, or you will feel the effect of the law as we seek to do our duty to protect all road users."