JGRA marks Road Safety Month
Anthony Minott, Gleaner Writer
The Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA) recently held a launch for this year's Road Safety Awareness Month, which is observed in June annually.
At the event, held at Chambers Texaco, 15 Trafalgar Road, New Kingston, Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), stressed the need to reverse a current trend towards higher road fatalities.
This is not only as the NRSC pursues its Below 240 programme, but also as part of the Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020).
The Hon Dr Morais Guy, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport and Works, lauded the JGRA and NRSC on their combined efforts to reduce road fatalities. He stressed that the ministry "has been playing its part to curb the carnage that we see on our roads".
This includes partnering with a number of stakeholders in hosting a national road tour to amplify the road safety message. In addition, representatives from the Road Safety Unit of the ministry visited a number of social events, asking patrons to "heed the call for better users of the roads".
Derrick Thompson, president of the JGRA, noted that fatigue plays a significant role in road crashes. He pointed to a study done by the University of South Australia in 1997, which showed that 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 per cent. That is higher than Jamaica's legal limit of 0.08 per cent blood alcohol.
Crash survivor Falasha Fitz-Henley gave a moving first-hand testimony of her experience. While she was walking along a busy thoroughfare in St Mary six years ago, a vehicle hit her from behind. Fitz-Henley was dragged 21 feet and did not recover consciousness until four days later in hospital.
Though lauding the road-safety efforts of the JGRA, NRSC and other organisations, Fitz-Henley, who now wears a prosthetic leg, is bitter at the wanton disregard for other persons shown by indisciplined drivers.
Students from Excelsior and Jesse Ripoll primary schools used drama and speech to press home the road-safety message.