Hanover motorcyclists get NRSC road safety training
Motorcyclists in Hanover, a region consistently featured in the top three parishes in fatal crashes involving motorcycles, were the recipients of the 11th staging of the National Road Safety Council’s (NRSC) Motorcycle Outreach and Training Programme, which was staged at the Green Island High School on Sunday.
Courtney Coubrie, the course presenter for the outreach and training programme, told The Gleaner that the course is being done with the participation and collaboration of other agencies such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the Island Traffic Authority.
“There were a lot of motorcycle deaths occurring in the western region, chief among them were the parishes of Westmoreland, St Elizabeth and Hanover, up to recently, and the result was that the NRSC was mandated to come up with an intervention to stem the problem in the area,” said Coubrie.
Fifty-six-year-old George Agustus of Prospect district in the western parish, who was killed in a motorcycle crash last Saturday, is the latest of the 29 motorcyclists and five pillion riders killed in fatal motorcycle accidents this year. He is the fifth person from Hanover.
“So far, we have been into the parishes of Westmoreland and St Elizabeth. In fact, this session is the 11th session that we will be staging, and over 400 motorcyclists have been trained already through this programme,” said Coubrie.
“There are times when we have up to 40 or more motorcyclists participating in a session. We have a two-fold thing, where we have a classroom session with different presenters instructing them on road safety; and when that is through, we have an outdoor session, where they are taught the proper way to manoeuvre a motorcycle.
“It has borne fruit, because in Westmoreland, they were the highest in motorcycle accident fatalities in the entire country, and since the intervention in that parish, they have dropped to the lowest,” he added.
Coubrie further noted that of all the motorcyclists in Westmoreland and St Elizabeth who have been trained under the programme, to date, none have been involved in any accidents. He said that because of the encouraging statistics, the NRSC is planning to take the programme to all parishes.
Interestingly, Assistant Superintendent of Police Dellon Lewis, of the JCF’s Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, who was one of the presenters at the Hanover session, told The Gleaner that no ‘bike taxi’ operators were involved in any fatal crashes. Bike taxis are a popular mode of transportation in some sections of Hanover and Westmoreland.
“I just want to clarify one thing, notwithstanding that Hanover, and by extension Westmoreland, have a bike taxi trade that bikers engage in daily, the data is not showing many crashes when those activities are taking place. Most of the fatal crashes that occur are cyclists just riding normally, not exactly when they are participating in the taxi trade,” said Lewis. “I am not saying that it (bike taxis) is legal, but the facts are the facts, and that’s what it is.”
Lewis said the educational aspect of the programme is essential to maintaining a level of safety on the roadways and informing motorcyclists of the importance of wearing proper gear while operating the machines.
“From a law-enforcement perspective, it does not make sense that we come out here and just prosecute, prosecute, prosecute. We have to educate them about the importance of maintaining a level of safety on the roadways, and to ensure that their motorcycles are roadworthy and are properly documented, so that they can traverse the thoroughfares safely,” said Lewis.