Bikers push road deaths past 400 mark
A boom in motorcycles has been cited by a road-safety expert as a key factor behind the rise in traffic fatalities in Jamaica this year.
Crash deaths have crossed the red line of 400 for the first time in nearly two decades, a threshold that has alarmed the police and traffic-management officials who have sought, unsuccessfully, to drive down casualties below 300 this decade.
As at last Thursday, 402 people have died from traffic-related injuries. The last time the 400 mark was breached was in 2002 when 408 people died.
Motorcyclists have this year accounted for 122 deaths, the biggest cohort, followed by 97 pedestrians. Sixty-two public motor car, five commercial motor car, and six public passenger vehicle drivers were killed over the period. Nineteen pedal cyclists were also killed.
The second quarter of the year accounted for the most deaths, at 119. Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council, still believes the campaign to not exceed 300 road deaths is possible.
“With the huge surge in the number of bikes imported in the past few years and an increase in the [driving] population since 2007, it is expected that the fatality rates would climb. But despite missing the target, we have a moral and ethical responsibility to set ambitious targets,” Jones told The Gleaner.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness will be meeting with stakeholders on January 16 to craft a plan of action, Jones said. The meeting will explore further improvements for an efficient post-crash response and the streamlining of the much-criticised ticketing system.