Data reveal that in 90% of bike deaths, cyclists weren’t wearing helmet
Dr Lucien Jones, chair of the National Road Safety Council, said data have shown that most motorcycle deaths in Jamaica revealled riders were not wearing a helmet.
Jones made the disclosure at a project steering committee meeting of the National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project, which was held recently at the offices of the JN Foundation on Belmont Road in St Andrew.
“Our data show that 90 per cent of motorcyclists who died on our roads were not wearing a helmet. The helmet use is not very high [in Jamaica],” he noted during the steering committee meeting.
Dr Terry Smith, principal scientist at Galeatus, LLC based in the United States, who presented compelling evidence of helmets’ life-saving potential underscored that the mission of the coalition should be to ensure that helmets are firmly secured on the heads of motorcyclists, emphasising the pivotal role they play in reducing fatalities.
“Your mission therefore becomes to get helmets on their heads (motorcyclists). If we can get helmets on their heads, we can start to make a difference,” he pointed out to the steering committee.
The committee was formed following the signing of an agreement with the National Road Safety Council, the JN Foundation, and FIA Foundation to establish the National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project. The three-year agreement valued at $750,000 euros was signed in August.
One major concern discussed by the committee was the influx of counterfeit and substandard helmets into the country. Smith strongly advocated for strict measures to regulate the importation of such inferior products, which offer little to no protection in the event of a crash. He argued that eliminating these counterfeit helmets from the market is essential for the safety of motorcyclists.
“I think we should try to get them under control, that is, try and eliminate the counterfeit products (helmets) because they are not as protective as the qualified product,” he suggested to address the problem.
Conrad Wiggan, chairman of the Island Bikers Association, who is also a member of the committee, said the importers of the bikes get the helmets at no cost to them, and these helmets often fall below the required standards that would offer some level of protection in the event of an accident.
“It is so cheap that the manufacturers distribute it to the importers at no cost, but what we need to do is stop the importers from bringing in the counterfeit helmets with the motorcycles. That would stop the inferior helmets from entering Jamaica,” he said.
Citing Jamaican legislation, Smith suggested that Jamaica’s regulations should require that importers obtain a test report to show that the helmets that are imported are compliant with the regulations for those helmets to be imported into the country.
Other members of the committee who were present include Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, vice president of The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica; Reverend Jayson Downer, president of Men of God Against Violence and Abuse; Orville Johnson, executive director of the Insurance Association of Jamaica; Errol Edwards, president of Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association; and Ambassador Alison Stone-Roofeand Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation.
The National Helmet Wearing Coalition’s efforts to promote helmet use and eliminate counterfeit products signal a crucial step toward enhancing road safety in Jamaica, ultimately saving lives and preventing tragic motorcycle crashes.