National Road Safety Council targets single-digit road fatalities by 2030
The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) is targeting single-digit road fatalities by the end of the next decade, even though projections from the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggest that injuries caused by road traffic crashes could be the fifth leading cause of death worldwide ahead of HIV/AIDS and hypertensive heart disease.
Road traffic injuries was ranked ninth in 2004 among the leading causes of death, according to the WHO, with coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diarrhoeal disease, and HIV/AIDS among the top six.
In 20 years' time, road traffic crashes are projected to be the fifth cause of death ahead of diabetes, lung cancer, HIV/AIDS, and violence.
As a result, Paula Fletcher, executive director of the NRSC, has warned that unless new systems are employed to put the brakes on car crashes, more people will die or end up injured on Jamaica's roads.
The new system to which Fletcher has alluded is the Safe System Approach, which has been adopted by an increasing number of countries and which forms the basis for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in March 2010.
Its goal is to stabilise and reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths around the world. It is estimated that five million lives could be saved on the world's roads during the decade.
"It also tells us that there must be things in place to ensure safety on the roads, and as a result, the National Road safety Council has adopted the Four 'Es' principle from Sweden in 2004, which has the lowest number of road fatalities due to crashes," Fletcher said.
The Four Es principle is education, engagement, enforcement and emergency response.
Sweden records four deaths per 100,000 of their population, the best among European countries, while Jamaica has 12 road deaths per 100,000, placing the country on par with the United States for the number of people killed in road crashes.
"That bit of statistic is worth looking into, but we are looking at getting to single-digit deaths in crashes on our way towards zero, which, while being idealistic, is where we need to be," Fletcher stated.
"People do not recognise that 90 per cent of crashes occur because of the decisions we make. The Safe System Approach is designed to make it less likely that a death will occur when there is a crash or traffic accident," added Fletcher.