100 deaths in 102 days on Ja roads
Jamaica recorded 100 road fatalities in the first 102 days of this year as efforts to encourage greater care on the road continue to fall on deaf ears.
Director of Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport Kenute Hare disclosed the numbers on Saturday during the Road Wise Expo 2015 staged by the University of West Indies (UWI) Open campus at the Police Officers' Club in St Andrew.
Hare noted that this was the first time in Jamaica's history that motorists and pedestrians were seemingly competing for the top spot in terms of road deaths.
So far, 27 per cent of the road deaths are pedestrians, while 26 per cent are motorists.
"Our pedestrians are continuing to use the road improperly. They step out in the road without due care, not wearing light-coloured clothing at night, and it is important for them to know that they must wear light-coloured clothing as visibility at night is very limited," said Hare.
"The main problem is the excessive speeding. Reckless overtaking and inappropriate use of the road by pedestrians are also some of the fundamental factors that contribute to crashes and it, therefore, means that ... enforcement is a critical part of the effort to reduce road fatalities."
Hare added: "In the engineering and traffic environment, we have to make sure are that they are in accordance ... to make sure persons operate safely. Then we look at the emergency-response systems, which will ensure that persons get adequate treatment when they are involved in collisions."
According to Hare, the Road Safety Unit plans to utilise every tool it can to get the message out that 100 deaths in 102 days is a very serious matter.
He noted that while people tend to argue that the bad roads are the reason why people are having accidents, more than 90 per cent of crashes happen on perfect roads, those without any potholes or with other faults.
Hare further noted that very soon there would be a new Road Safety Act, which is being designed to revolutionise road safety.
"The current Road Safety Act is from 1938, and this one will make a lot of changes. It will be very effective in the operations of road safety," said Hare.
Chief executive officer of JN General Insurance Company Chris Hind shared that based on research and work that his company has done with the Mona Geoinfomatics Institute of the UWI, it is clear that people need to take road safety very seriously.
"Most accidents in Jamaica are caused by tailgating, but most fatal accidents are caused by speed, and the use of the road is very poor. The studies shows that the rate of road fatalities in Jamaica is four times what it is in the United States and nine times what it is in the United Kingdom, so that means you are nine times more likely to be killed in Jamaica than you are in England," Hind explained.
Hind charged that unless people start paying more attention to the road and less to the smartphone, road crashes would continue to be a problem.
"The sad fact is that motor vehicles travelling at high speed do terrible things to the human body," he said.