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Gov’t goes hi-tech to stop road crashes

Published:Monday | May 27, 2019 | 1:10 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

Licence plate-recognition software that will allow law-enforcement authorities to nab delinquent motorists is to be introduced in Jamaica this year, the National Works Agency (NWA) has warned.

According to the NWA’s manager of communication and customer services, Stephen Shaw, everything is in place to make the system work.

“We are going to be using our cameras so that we are going to be in a position to see real time what is taking place,” Shaw said at a recent Gleaner Editors’ Forum.

He also said that the communication system is already in place.

“We need sensors, we have sensors, and we need a software to assist in capturing data and doing the analysis, and we have that,” he said.

This year, the NWA will be rolling out a pilot project along areas of the North Coast Highway between Negril and Portland that have been identified as crash spots.

Shaw said the NWA will be setting up equipment at locations where it will be able to garner information in real time.


Improper overtaking and speeding have been identified as the two main causes of crashes in Jamaica.

Shaw said the licence plate-recognition system will help to identify individuals who habitually speed through certain areas, in particular, the infamous crash spots.

“When you enter the toll area, we don’t even have to chase you down the entire way. You’ll just get a ticket when you exit the booth,” interjected vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council, Dr Lucien Jones.

“We are going to be treating this as a pilot that we learn from and, hopefully, repeat in other locations around the island. We are in a position to do this because we have invested heavily in a fibre network that is owned by the Government,” Shaw said.

He noted, too, that although the speed-detection infrastructure system is in place on the Mandela Highway, it was still work in progress.

In the meantime, Jones said Jamaica must embrace the ‘safe systems’ philosophy.

“The data is showing that enforcement alone won’t do it, public education alone will not reap the rewards that you need,” Jones said. “You need the entire five pillars (safe roads, safe speeds, safe road users, safe vehicles and a post-crash system) which prevent unnecessary deaths, and they have to work together.”

Road fatality statistics

The Road Safety Unit is appealing to all road users to wear seat belts, helmets, and other protective devices to save lives, as well as to pay close attention to road signs and markings.

As at May 24, 175 persons had been killed in 160 crashes:

n 57 motorcyclists

n 39 pedestrians

n 25 passengers of private motor vehicles

n 28 drivers of private motor vehicles

n 11 pedal cyclists

n 4 pillion riders

n 4 public passenger vehicles (PPV) passengers

n 4 commercial motor car passengers,

n 2 commercial motor car drivers

n 1 PPV driver