All fatal road crashes can be prevented – Green
Minister wants constant enforcement of RTA, urges public to give feedback on new law
Government Minister Floyd Green has declared that the nation is facing a road fatality crash crisis, which, he says, can be addressed through targeted behaviour change programmes.
The minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, who was speaking at a defensive driving workshop hosted by Grennell’s Driving School at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Monday, lamented the number of people who die from road crashes.
As of April 14 this year, 123 people have died from 111 road crashes. And last year, 488 people died as a result of road crashes.
The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) has projected 469 fatal crashes for this year.
“Sometimes when we use statistics and we say numbers, it divorces from the reality that these are actual lives, people with families,” he said. “I stand here to say all of our crashes can be prevented. Every single one. We never needed to lose not even one life since the start of the year, but we have to change our behaviour on the road.”
Contending that the Government is committed to reducing fatal road crashes, Green outlined initiatives to address this, which involve mapping out crash hot spots and putting in proper surveillance. In some cases, too, the minister said investigations will also be conducted to ascertain how the conditions of roads contribute to road crashes.
“The National Works Agency is looking at that and seeing how they can modify the roads in those areas,” he said.
He also pointed to a national helmet wearing coalition in collaboration with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile to encourage more motorists to wear protective gear.
At 28 per cent, motorcyclists account for the largest category of the road users killed since the start of the year.
Additionally, Green said that the Government, with the support of the United Nations Road Safety Fund, will be procuring more breathalyser machines.
“Driving is an integral part of our daily lives; however, it does come with great responsibility for the safety of ourselves and for the safety of our road users,” he said.
He further disclosed that the first meeting of the NRSC to review the new Road Traffic Act (RTA) has already been held, and is urging members of the public who have concerns or suggestions on the legislation to reach out to the NRSC.
He stated that the committee consists of representatives from a wide cross-section of society, including members of the public, transport operators and the private sector.
Along with the contentious clause that required motorists to provide child seats for children 12 years and younger or face a $5,000 fine, Green said the stringent criteria for persons 70 years and older who are renewing their licence, as well as the extent of some of the fines for breaches of the act were discussed.
He said that the next meeting of the committee will take place in May, when these suggestions will be reviewed, and that by June, recommendations will be made to Cabinet.
The minister, however, maintains that the new act is a major tool to facilitate behaviour change on the roads, and believes that consistent enforcement will result in this happening.
“The act ... has to be obeyed so that we reduce and, hopefully, eliminate deaths on our nation’s road,” Green said.