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Road worries: Deaths speed pass 300 mark

Published:Sunday | January 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Travelling on Jamaican roads continues to be a challenge with more than 300 deaths recorded in 2009, the ninth straight year fatalities have soared past that number.

Julian Thompson, education and information officer at the Road Safety Unit of the Transport and Works ministry, said 334 deaths had been tallied up to December 29. If that figure holds, it would be nine less deaths than 2008 and 16 less than 2007.

A lull in the traditionally deadly Christmas season resulted in the decrease, as there was a considerable drop in deaths for December, when compared to last year. According to the RSU, up to last Wednesday, 29 persons had died in traffic accidents compared to 42 in 2008.

Male drivers accounted for the most traffic deaths in 2009 - a staggering 75 per cent.

Despite several initiatives by the RSU and the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) to get road fatalities under 300, that objective remains elusive.

Road-Safety Contest

In late 2008, the NRSC launched its 'Below 300' programme and enlisted celebrities such as Olympic champion Usain Bolt to endorse its campaign.

Four months ago the organisation jump-started its Inter-Parish Road Safety Contest to encourage road awareness in the 14 parishes. For this programme, administrators incorporated corporate companies and leaders, with a prize going to the parish with the biggest drop in road deaths.

Because statistics were not available at press time, it is not known how successful the parish contest was.

- H.C.