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Risky business

Recklessness rules on nomination day

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor ---
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 21, 2020

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KENUTE Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, is sounding the alarm amid scenes of recklessness on display on Tuesday's nomination day.

“We are appealing to everyone who is using the roadways now, during this season, to obey the laws. No hanging out of vehicles; no on top of vehicles; keep your limbs inside the vehicle; and those who are operating motorcycles, please wear your helmet,” Hare told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

“We have had situations in the past where persons have fallen off the top of these buses because they were on the roof. We have had situations where people have fallen out of vehicles; we've had situations where people have crashed. These have all occurred in the past and we don't want them to happen again,” he continued.

On Tuesday, 139 candidates were nominated for the approaching September 3 General Election, and supporters of the governing Jamaica Labour Party and Opposition People's National Party turned out in their numbers across several polling stations islandwide. A party-like atmosphere prevailed, with many supporters throwing caution to the wind.

As of yesterday, a total of 258 people were killed on the island's roadways since the start of the year. The number is 29 fewer than the corresponding period last year.

Last year 440 people were killed on the island's road network; 2018 saw 389; while 322 died 2017.

“People are just dying before their time; these are all untimely deaths. We don't want any risky behaviour out there on the [road] network,” he said.

Hare said he is confident candidates would have advised their supporters not to engage in these indisciplined actions.

“Remember, the prime minister [Andrew Holness] is the chairman of the National Road Safety Council... I was told that candidates spoke to their supporters. However, it's the drivers and passengers who are to be blamed; they don't listen,” he said.

Hare had a word of advice for the exuberant party supporters.

“Election supporters, please don't breach the Road Traffic Act. Do your campaign in accordance with the law. It is best we keep ourselves safe in this period. We can't afford any traffic crashes right now,” he added.

Hare said the Transport Ministry is now putting the final touches to an islandwide public education campaign that will accompany the new Road Traffic Act, which was passed in the House of Parliament on February 6, 2018.

Offences under the Bill include: driving without required motor vehicle insurance coverage ($20,000); driving a motor vehicle without being the holder of a permit or driver's licence ($40,000); failure of driver to obey traffic light ($24,000); loud noises within silence zones and failure to wear a protective helmet ($5,000); failure to comply with traffic signs ($10,000); and failure to stop at pedestrian crossings ($12,000).

Formed in 1994, the RSU promotes and fosters an orderly and disciplined traffic culture that is conducive to the development of a safe traffic environment through the conceptualisation, design and dissemination of a sustained programme of public information, education in schools, legislation, accident information, and research.


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