Sat | May 25, 2019

RJRGLEANER, JCF partner to boost road safety

Published:Thursday | May 16, 2019 | 12:21 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Gary Allen (seated, left), CEO of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group, and Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson sign a memorandum of understanding yesterday to partner in a road-safety campaign. Looking on are (from left) Superintendent Courtney Coubrie, operations officer at the police's Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB); Milton Walker, group head of news at the RJRGLEANER Communications Group; Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, executive director of Mona Geoinformatics Institute; Victor Anderson, programme coordinator of National Road Safety Council (NRSC); Paula Fletcher, executive director of the NRSC; Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake; and Senior Superintendent Calvin Allen, head of PSTEB.

The RJRGLEANER Communications Group has committed $10 million in partnering with the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) to execute a six-month public-education campaign to boost road safety.

Speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding yesterday, Police Commissioner Major Antony Anderson said an “interruption” is needed to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by accidents on the nation’s roads.

“It is very difficult. We have seen the trends and figures. It was clear that an interruption was necessary to start bringing those [road-death] numbers down,” he said.

One hundred and sixty-two persons have been killed in 148 crashes since the start of this year. Data from the Road Safety Unit indicate that vulnerable road users – including pedestrians, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists and pillion – account for 64 per cent of road deaths since 2019.

Anderson praised the media company for being a responsible corporate citizen and for its willingness to assist in promoting safety on the nation’s roads, saying its $10 million starting commitment would go a long way in assisting the campaign.

“It is really that kind of material commitment that shows the corporate social responsibility that we need so badly in the country. We are always looking for partners to help us achieve our goal, which is that public safety is a JCF priority,” the commissioner said.

RJRGLEANER Group CEO Gary Allen said the organisation takes its corporate responsibility seriously and has demonstrated this over the years by lending support to various causes and initiatives in the national interest.

He said such a campaign was timely as road users can be seen taking unnecessary risks daily.

“As media practitioners, we also see the growing instances of carelessness on our streets, we see the poor driving practices, the stupid actions of some of our drivers, and we see pedestrians crossing streets while using cell phones and while wearing headphones, oblivious to the danger that lies around them and the obvious danger which they are opening themselves to,” said Allen.

He continued: “We also see a culture of behaviour that has developed, where some pedestrians cross the streets, sauntering as they go, daring motorists to hit them, as if they have a choice of who will enter hospital at that time. We see them (motorists) speeding up on amber, flying through red, driving motorcycles without helmets, driving motorcycles at night without headlamps ... .”

culture change needed

Allen said it was this realisation and concern for the welfare of Jamaicans which spurred the conversation with the police hierarchy about a partnership to tackle the issue.

“We are starting over the next six months with a $10 million contribution to produce and air public messages in a campaign aimed at highlighting bad spots where multiple fatalities have taken place,” the RJRGLEANER CEO said.

He said the campaign would be executed among the group’s various platforms – print, radio, multimedia and online – to promote responsible use of the roads as well as educate Jamaicans on the impact of traffic accidents to the cost of healthcare, insurance premiums, roads and road fixture repairs, among other facts.

The campaign will also enlist the support of other partners.

“We are pleased, therefore, that we have some resources that we can partner with the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch of the JCF, their partners, the Mona GeoInformatics Institute, The University of the West Indies, and others, who will share information and help us empower our people to make better decisions,” Allen said.

Digital media company It’s Pixel Perfect Limited, an RJRGLEANER media partner, has also agreed to assist PSTEB in monitoring, analysing and sharing information.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com