brakes on reckless driving
Sunday | May 25, 2008
Paul Messam, Gleaner writer
The ill-fated Toyota station wagon that was involved in an accident on the toll road recently. Six persons were killed on the spot. - File
Kingston and St Andrew and St Catherine record the highest number of fatalities each year.
Recklessness on the roads is one of the major causes of fatal accidents. The key to the entire operation of driving is the driver. Many persons tend to oversimplify the driving task. They interpret the role of the driver as the relatively easy movements of the ignition switch, throttle, steering wheel, pedals and so on.
right and wrong
They unfortunately ignore the fact that there is a right and wrong way to make these movements and that the incorrect manipulation of these controls can and usually have a decided effect on safe driving. A driver who is alert, awake and aware is showing that he knows what he is about and is ready to drive defensively.
How can we begin putting the brakes on reckless and careless driving? "We first have to decide on the kind of society that we want," says Kenute Hare, accident analyst in the Road Safety Unit, at the Ministry of Transport and Works. "We cannot afford to have so many of our citizens being killed on our roads," he adds.
According to Hare, although fatal accidents and fatalities have been reduced by seven per cent and eight per cent over corresponding period last year, and based on the unit's projection, there should be a ten per cent reduction when compared to last year. "Passengers in motor vehicle accidents account for 31 per cent of road users killed on the road and 71 per cent of those persons were traveling in private motor vehicles." Hare further explains that our fatality rate per 100,000 population is 12.75 which falls into the medium level, as stipulated by the Latin American Caribbean Accident Barometer.
Data from the Road Safety Unit reveal that St Catherine has the highest number of fatalities (66) while Kingston and St Andrew has 59. The parish of St Ann records 36 and St James 31.
Hanover's accident rate, says Hare, is 28.8 per 1,000 of the population, while the figure for Trelawny is 27.96. In terms of raw numbers, Hanover records approximately 20 deaths per year and Trelawny records 21.
Persons most at risk are those who fall within the 60-plus age cohort . In fact, 53 elderly persons died last year. "The risk level for the elderly is very high," says Hare.
He further explains that the fatalities in that age group comprise 26.93 per 1,000 population, followed by the 65-69 age group accounting for 18.9. The 30-34 age accounts for 16.6 and the 70-74 age group accounts for 17.54.
He explains that these projections are based on the multiplicative decomposition seasonal time-series analysis model which uses 2001 as a base year. "These projections help us to plan our actions in order to reduce these deaths".
Road fatality figures
The accidents analyst projects the 2008 islandwide road fatality figures to read as follows:
January to March
April to June
July to September
October to December
Ideas to reduce reckless driving
Hare proposes that:
1. The institutions that are mandated to carry out road safety actions be strengthened. These include the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Ministry of Health.
2. There has to be a redesigning and re-engineering of our driver education programmes.
3. There should be serious sanctions placed on reckless and care-free and careless drivers. Those persons should have their premiums hiked, while the premiums for those persons who are accident-free should be lowered.
4. Accident black spots must be properly identified and marked so as to provide detailed analysis of these areas, with a view to initiating the corrective measures.
5. There must be a collaboration with the media and other road safety stakeholders to carry more public education messages on road safety.