A SINGLE motor vehicle crash yesterday along the Portmore leg of Highway 2000 has brought a screeching halt to a campaign by one stakeholder group to limit the nation's road fatalities to under 240 this year
The crash claimed the life of Constable Nyrone Walfall, making him the 240th person to die on the nation's roads this year.
Walfall, who was a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, was reportedly travelling towards the Portmore toll plaza when he lost control of the vehicle which careened off the roadway. He was pronounced dead at the Kingston Public Hospital.
Buoyed by the 13-year low of 260 road fatalities recorded last year, the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) launched a campaign in March that sought to bring that number below 240 annually over the next three years.
Numerous attempts yesterday to reach Dr Lucien Jones, NRSC vice-chairman, and Paula Fletcher, the executive director, were unsuccessful.
Increase for corresponding year
However, with 64 days still remaining in the year, the Road Safety Unit in the transport ministry has revealed that there has been a 14 per cent increase in road fatalities this year when compared to the corresponding period last year.
Head of the unit, Kenute Hare, said the 240 fatalities recorded so far this year are 29 more than were recorded for the corresponding period last year.
Hare acknowledged that the country is on pace to again record under 300 road deaths, but said pedestrians, motorcyclists and private motor vehicle operators continue to engage in risky behaviour on the road.
He said excessive speeding, improper overtaking and refusing to wear helmets are some of the common causes of motor vehicle crashes.
A breakdown of the figures shows that 71 of those killed on the roads this year were pedestrians, 42 were passengers in private motor vehicles, 39 were motorcyclists, and 35 were drivers of private motor vehicles.
A common feature of most crashes, he said, was drivers and pedestrians being distracted by cell phones.
"Pedestrian behaviour is the biggest problem. We are seeing people crossing the streets while on their cell phones and not being aware of their surroundings," Hare pointed out.
In addition, he said of the 39 motorcyclists killed, only four were wearing helmets.