Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Westmoreland records highest child fatalities

Published:Friday | July 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM
From left: Onyka Barrett Scott, acting general manager of JN Foundation; Dr Earl Bailey of the University of Technology; Floyd Green, minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; Rebecca Tortello, UNICEF education specialist and Lone Hvass, deputy representative of UNICEF Jamaica, signing the board for Child Road Safety. JN Foundation, in partnership with UNICEF, has recently completed a report on a Child Road Safety Assessment of Jamaica in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report was launched at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters at Mona on Wednesday.

Statistics show that Westmoreland has recorded the highest number of child fatalities in traffic accidents between 2012 and 2017.

Lead researcher Dr Earl Bailey made the revelation following his analysis of data from the Jamaica National Foundation's Child Road Safety Assessment: Jamaica report, which was launched at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies in Mona, St Andrew, yesterday.

The report showed that Westmoreland recorded 16 fatalities. This was followed by Kingston Eastern and St Ann, which recorded 10, while St Catherine South had nine. There were no fatalities in Kingston Central and St Mary.

Bailey, who is a senior lecturer at the University of Technology, suggested that a possible factor for this trend could be the increase in urbanisation in these areas.

"You find that areas with the highest fatalities are areas that are reporting higher rates of urbanisation. Whether it's improvement in road conditions, whether through road alignment, improving surface, or road widening," Bailey declared.

"It means that we sort of erred when we say that Jamaica is becoming an urban society. That is not really the case. Urbanisation requires that there be supporting physical infrastructure to manage the increase in densities, and there has to be a socio-cultural behavioural pattern that complements such development," Bailey stated.

He also said that there was a lack of development plans to guide urban development outside of the Kingston metropolitan region to ensure safe road conditions.

"For example, we have Old Harbour in St Catherine, Linstead, Santa Cruz, among others, that are seeing growth outside of the original urban centres. But the irony is that the development plans, according to the law, only cover the original centres," Bailey noted. He said that it was critical that improved protective mechanisms be implemented to protect children on the nation's roads.