Crash zone! - Engineer cites several factors behind frequent accidents on Mandela Highway
An improved Mandela Highway is expected to make life easier for motorists when the work is done in December but, concerns linger about the safety of the roadway at this time.
Up to late last week, the police were unable to provide official figures on the recent accidents on the highway, but workers on the upgrading project told The Sunday Gleaner that they see an average of three accidents each day.
Civil engineer Glendon Lewis was not surprised about the number of accidents reported by the workers, nor the fact that the majority of these incidents occur in the stretch near the Hydel Group of Schools.
"One of the first issues is that there is not enough illumination on the barriers that they are using. The barriers don't glow in the dark. It is only when your car light reaches the barriers that you really realise how close you are. That time it may be too late," said Lewis, who lecturers at the University of Technology.
"Another issue is the control of traffic. The persons who are assigned to control traffic, especially where you have to turn across to that industrial area ... traffic control is poor," added Lewis.
He also cited the narrowness of the roadway and inexperience on the part of some drivers as contributing factors to the crashes on the road.
"In some cases, the road will just veer off from one lane into the next, and that hits you suddenly as well. There is also an issue with the construction vehicles moving across. In many cases, there is nobody directing them," said Lewis.
Last Wednesday, workers on the road project said they had counted four accidents before our news team arrived shortly after 2 p.m.
One worker told The Sunday Gleaner that he is on edge every time he works near the passing vehicles.
"Is pure six vehicles hit up here every day. We have about three accidents since morning alone, and I think speeding is the cause of most of the accidents. The road is narrow, and most of the times people are swerving," he said.
"Look there, we just fixed that part of the railing and a vehicle come and hit it down already. Tell you the truth I'm working and I have to be fretting say something is going to come hit me," he said.
In one incident last Wednesday, a car slammed into the back of a Jamaica Urban Transit Company bus, jolting passengers, especially those who were disembarking at a makeshift bus stop.
That incident did not result in any causalty, but in April, 34-year-old Braeton resident Marlene James was not so lucky.
She died after being flung from the vehicle in which she was travelling when it met in a five-vehicle collision on the stretch of roadway. Two weeks ago, nine-year-old Raheim Gardener from the 'Ferry' community was hit by a Toyota Noah motor vehicle about 7 p.m. The driver of that vehicle fled the scene leaving the child for dead.
"His ribs on his right side were cracked, and he got several cuts and bruises all over him body. I had to do a brain scan, but God is so good to me that him come back out all right," said Raheim's mother, Simone Foster.
She noted that it was a passing female motorist who scooped up her son and took him to the hospital, saving his life. But the Good Samaritan left the hospital before Foster could tell her thanks.
"I would like to give thanks to whoever took my child to the hospital. I would really like to tell you thanks in person," said Foster as she clutched Raheim to her bosom.