Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), is confident that the target of under 300 traffic deaths for a calendar year will finally be met for the first time since 1999 with just nine days remaining in 2012.
There have been a total of 245 traffic deaths since January 2012 compared with 295 deaths on December 21, 2011. The total number of road fatalities for 2011 was 308.
"The fact that we are at the 21st and only eight people have died since the beginning of December means that it is unlikely for us to go past 260 road fatalities. A total of 31 persons died due to road fatalities in December last year. This is already a significant reduction," Jones told The Gleaner yesterday.
"Usually, this quarter of the year is the one that gives the most trouble due to the increase in activities, but as it is this year around, this quarter may come out to be the best," he added.
Jones lauded Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, head of the Police Traffic Division, for the work done this year by the police to help to reduce road fatalities.
"The police have not only been more active on the road, but they have also targeted the hot spots for these crashes across the island. The area by Central Village in Spanish Town, for example, there were a lot of overhanging trees and the light was poor due to this. This was affecting (visibility of) oncoming cars, so they approached the National Works Agency (NWA) to cut them down, and since then, that area has improved drastically. They have shown wonderful leadership and I hope this continues into 2013," he said.
He also indicated that the NRSC received valuable support from the National Health Fund (NHF), which bolstered its public-education drive.
"We have a fairly efficient education system that is well funded by the NHF. The significant amount of money that we got from them over the years has been a major factor in helping us to get the message out there, which has made a considerable amount of difference," Jones said.
"Above all, I would place prayer as the number-one contributor towards the reduction in these traffic deaths and that is why in January 2013, we will be having our thanksgiving service," he told The Gleaner. The thanksgiving service will be held at the Webster Memorial Church in Kingston.