Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Report: Speeding, lack of helmets snuff out children's lives

Published:Monday | July 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Floyd Green (left), minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; Lone Hvass (second left), deputy representative of UNICEF Jamaica; and Onyka Barrett Scott (third left), acting general manager of JN Foundation, in discussion with, from right, Brian Barrow, Shiloh Brock and Jhon-Marc Prince at last week's launch of the JN Foundation/UNICEF Child Road Safety Assessment Report at the Regional Headquarters, University of the West Indies, Mona campus in St Andrew.

Disregard for simple road-safety practices such as the use of seat belts, helmets and child-restraint systems is causing Jamaican children to die, according to recent findings from research on child road safety commissioned by the JN Foundation and The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

"Speeding and riding without a motorcycle helmet, as well as transporting a child without proper child restraints, are among the most frequent traffic violations involving children," said Dr Earl Bailey, lead researcher on the JN Foundation/UNICEF Child Road Safety Assessment Report.

Bailey was speaking at the official launch of the research data, which was held at The University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters, Mona campus, last Wednesday.

He said that in 2017, some 32,365 traffic tickets were issued for exceeding the speed limit. Tickets issued for driving without seat belts totalled some 113,677.

The researcher further divulged that transporting a child without a child restraint resulted in 3,604 tickets. Tickets to motorcyclists riding without protective helmets totalled approximately 2,728.

"Fines are not the answer, there must be behavioural and structural changes," Bailey advised as he pointed out that "over the last 40 years, traffic fines have failed to curb road fatalities and crashes".

 

BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE

 

Onyka Barrett Scott, acting general manager of the JN Foundation, speaking at the launch, agreed that there must be behavioural change.

"We are guardians of our children. Some of us drop them off at school daily. However, many of us don't have the luxury of dropping them off, we simply put them on a bus. Therefore, addressing this problem is a real need for many households," she stated.

"We do have a moral responsibility to ensure that our children are able to grow up; be educated in a safe and enabling environment, and being safe on the road is part of that."

Barrett Scott explained that the research will be used to guide infrastructural changes at selected schools across the island, while paying particular attention to those parishes where the highest numbers of road crashes and fatalities occur.

"The research findings will be used as part of the X Marks the Spot Road Safety Campaign to inform teachers, students, parents and community members at the schools we select about use of safety interventions, such as bus lay-bys, improved pedestrian crossings, and pedestrians' gates," she outlined.