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Loss of Control Cited as Number one Cause of Fatal Crashes In 2015

Published:Tuesday | July 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Onlookers view one of the motor vehicles involved in a three-vehicle collision along the Rose Hall main road in St James.

Loss of control has this year eclipsed speeding as the number one cause of fatal crashes.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, director of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI) shared insights on the patterns in crash data used to launch the Jamaica National General Insurance (JNGI)  online fatal crash map.

“The number one cause is loss of control. There is a little bit of controversy as to whether speeding leads to loss of control but speeding is a category by itself. The number two cause is pedestrian behaviour,” he said.

He went on to describe incidents of loss of control.

“ Loss of control could range from a motorcyclist who doesn't know how to ride a bike or to a rickety old car or someone swerving in your lane, so loss of control is a very broad category.”

Lyew-Ayee indicated that there is a need to define loss of control more precisely.

“That is what we are looking at now. We are going back over the crash reports to try and tease more detail out of the reports,” he said.

The latest statistics from the National Road Safety Council  show that there have been 179 fatal crashes and 192 fatalities since the start of the year. Those figures represent an increase over the same period last year when the figure for fatal crashes stood at 161 and the figure for fatalities was 172. 

The number of child fatalities for 2015 totalled 10. A breakdown of the fatalities for 2015 include 44 pedestrians, 57 motorcyclists and 10 pedal cyclists among others. The total number of fatalities recorded last year was 331.

According to Lyew-Ayee, “the number one cause for fatal crashes over the 10-year landmark study was speeding, but the number one cause for crashes in general is tailgating, which is following too closely behind another vehicle.

The number one cause for fatal crashes in urban areas however is pedestrian behaviour and in rural areas it is highways and when we say rural areas, you can have long stretches of highways located in rural areas such as sections of Highway 2000.”

That 10-year study, completed in 2012, allowed MGI to create a baseline used to determine patterns and the different types of crashes islandwide, ranging from fender-benders to fatalities. This data, in addition to daily updates from the Police Traffic Division is now being used to provide real-time updates on the online fatal crash map.

Lyew-Ayee indicated that since the online portal was launched, its usage has spiked.