Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Road Safety Unit places focus on children

Published:Friday | June 11, 2021 | 12:17 PM
Acting Director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, Deidre Hudson-Sinclair. She has indicated that nine children have been killed on the nation's roads as of June 7, 2021 - Contributed photo.

The Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport is prioritising children as it places increased focus on protecting vulnerable road users.

Acting director of the unit, Deidre Hudson Sinclair, said that nine children have been killed on the roads as of June 7.

She noted that the number of child road fatalities, to date, while two less than the 11 recorded for the same period in 2019, is concerning, particularly as there are fewer children on the roads due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, which include school closures.

“We have seen a decrease in children using our road network so we are at a point now where we have to [ask] if it wasn't COVID what would we be looking at?” Hudson-Sinclair said.

She was addressing the first in a series of Road Safety Talks on June 8 in recognition of Road Safety Month.

Hudson-Sinclair said that the top three causes of child fatalities in 2021, as determined by the Road Safety Unit's crash analysis system, are inattention and diverted attention by drivers; pedestrian stepping, walking, running or verging into the roadway; and pedestrians walking or standing in the roadway.

Hudson-Sinclair contended that all of these causes speak to improper road use.

She further noted that the drivers were travelling at speeds of 30 kilometres or lower when the crashes occurred, which indicates that they were not speeding but “were unfortunately impacted by other issues that were happening on the roadway, which led to the fatalities”.

She noted, however, that a vehicle going over 20 kilometres per hour can kill an adult and will most likely kill a child.

Meanwhile, Hudson Sinclair pointed out that once schools reopen and more children will be back on the roads, they will be at increased risk.

“You have to take a strong look at what the data is telling us and how we can start looking at engaging our children in the roadway, engaging adults in terms of how they are using the roadway, and protecting vulnerable users such as children,” Hudson-Sinclair said.

The Road Safety Talks, being hosted by the Ministry of Transport and Mining, are geared at addressing issues impacting road safety and seeking public discourse on making roads safer for vulnerable road users.

Tuesday's event, held under the theme 'Children and Road Safety' examined issues that affect children using the Jamaican road network as pedestrians, private motor/public vehicles passengers, pillion riders and in some instances, drivers.

- JIS News 

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