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Despite huge decline, NRSC says still too many road deaths

Published:Tuesday | January 31, 2023 | 12:26 AMMark Titus/Gleaner Writer
Dr Lucien Jones.
Dr Lucien Jones.


Although preliminary data indicate a near 50 per cent year-on-year decline in road fatalities in January, Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), believes the toll is still too high.

Up to January 30, some 22 people had lost their lives on the nation’s roadways. This is 20 fewer than 42 recorded over the corresponding period in 2023.

“The numbers are hugely encouraging, but I am still not satisfied,” Jones told The Gleaner. “Twenty-two is still far too many.”

Excessive speeding and failure to keep to the near side or proper traffic lane continue to be the leading causes of fatal crashes.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary McKenzie, head of the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, is confident that strategies to be introduced by the police, supported by the new Road Traffic Act and regulations, will lead to greater discipline by drivers.

“The fines have increased, but what will be of even greater deterrent is the fact that when people are charged, unlike before, where if they do not pay the fines or have outstanding tickets [they] were still able to renew a driver’s licence, that will not be accommodated this time around,” he said.

On Saturday, a pedal cyclist lost his life along the Mandela Highway in St Andrew after the driver of a motorcar attempted to avoid a collision with another vehicle and turned the vehicle into the path of the cyclist, hitting him.

A young motorcycle rider was also killed along the Golden Grove main road in St Ann when the vehicle he was riding collided with a motorcar travelling in the opposite direction after the car turned into his path.

Motorcycle crashes have been the leading cause of death on Jamaican roadways for several years. According to data from the Road Safety Unit, motorcyclists accounted for 142, or 29 per cent, of the 488 persons who died from 425 fatal crashes last year.

The number of pedal cyclists being killed on our roads have declined in recent years. Last year 17 pedal cyclists died, decreasing by 12 when compared to the previous year (29).

Last year, Deidrie Hudson-Sinclair, director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, made an appeal for motorists to practise discipline on the roads amid the increase in accidents and fatalities in the western region, following a double fatal accident along a section of the Rose Hall main road in Montego Bay.

“Having good roads is one thing, but, drivers, we must recognise that the one thing we maintain control of is our driving behaviour, the speed at which we drive,” Hudson-Sinclair said. “We realise that people continue to speed regardless of the road conditions, whether it be poor lighting or wet roads, or the areas that they are driving in, such as the outskirts of communities. These persons don’t drive for the environmental signals,” said Hudson-Sinclair, as she advised motorists to also be mindful of pedestrians, especially in built-up areas.