Stopping indiscipline on the road can save your life
"Be patient. Obey the speed limit, road signs, and signals. Use safety devices. Do not use the cell phone while driving and even when walking. Don't drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We can and must do better to ensure our safety and the safety of others," is the appeal from Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council, to road users today, as Jamaica observes World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
"When there is a crash, it puts a strain on a family, leaves a void that will never be filled and costs the country millions annually to deal with the results," she lamented in a joint statement by the council and the traffic division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the council, pointed out that, in most cases, crashes are avoidable, with research showing that indiscipline is the major contributory factor.
"We must find the will to overcome the indiscipline that is causing the loss of our family members and fellow Jamaicans. We must pay attention to the many warning signs indicating crash-prone spots across the island, erected by the Jamaica National General Insurance Company. They are reminders to motorists to drive safely," Jones charged.
Data from the Police Traffic Division show 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. The Llandovery main road in St Ann; Brunswick Avenue and Dyke Road in St Catherine; as well as Spanish Town Road, St Andrew, top the list of 'bad spots'.
The 'Elegant Corridor' - running from St Ann to Montego Bay, St James - accounts for 15 deaths from five crashes since the start of the year. This roadway has instances of wide roads which suddenly lead to narrow bridges, as well as un-elevated markings to depict medians, so motorists overtake to the far right, posing a problem to other road users, according to the police. For this reason, that corridor is continuously monitored, Acting Senior Superintendent of Police Courtney Coubrie, who heads the traffic division, explained.
"I led an operation recently with my team of deputy superintendent in charge of operations, traffic personnel, examiners and certifying officers from Kingston, as we went and supported the St Ann Police Traffic Division. We had several road-policing activities, with both overt and covert operations, and issued 312 tickets, ranging from speeding to not wearing seat belts, to faulty vehicles," shared Coubrie.
A high-traffic area with many pedestrians, Brunswick Avenue in Spanish Town, St Catherine, had five collisions and six deaths since the start of the year. Spanish Town Road, which facilitates high-volume traffic to and from downtown Kingston, registered four collisions and six deaths.
Coubrie said Dyke Road in Portmore, also a high-volume traffic area, had five fatalities from two crashes. This roadway, which is used by those travelling from the Portmore toll to the Vineyard toll, and to access several key communities in Portmore, has proven to be problematic.
"Dyke Road has no soft shoulder, just a lane in either direction, so when persons are driving along that corridor, they have to be careful. Their judgement and everything have to be spot on. They have to do less overtaking because once you're faced by the oncoming vehicle and you're not able to move, you can face serious consequences," he warned.
So with traffic crashes and fatalities usually climbing during the Christmas season, the police and National Road Safety Council are using today's observance to appeal to all road users across Jamaica to take greater responsibility for their safety. They are warned to be especially vigilant when travelling along the 'bad spots'.
Each year, millions of newly injured and bereaved persons worldwide are added to the countless numbers already suffering as a result of road crashes. World Day of Remembrance for World Traffic Victims provides a day of commemorating those killed or injured on roads across the globe, as well as their families and communities, and to pay tribute to the dedicated emergency crews, police, and medical professionals who deal with the traumatic aftermath of road death and injury daily.