Road deaths pass 400 mark


Road deaths pass 400 mark

Friday, December 11, 2020

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Executive Director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) Paula Fletcher yesterday mourned the fact that there is no target date set for the implementation of the long-awaited Road Traffic Act (RTA).

Fletcher, who sees the implementation of the Act as essential to reducing road deaths, was participating in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-sponsored webinar, 'Road Safety in the Caribbean: A Safe System Approach to Saving Lives'. She said she expects that the regulations, which are holding up the process, to be completed next year.

“The regulations are expected in 2021, and we would love to see it in the first quarter, even towards the end of the first quarter so that it can be included in the whole budget (2021/22). We really would like to see some action and movement on this early in the first quarter of the year,” she pleaded.

Interestingly, Fletcher's pleas were made on the very day that the Road Safety Unit (RSU) of the Ministry of Transport and Mining released a “Crash Update” for the period January 1 to December 8 showing that the figure had reached 402 deaths.

In the unhappy news borne by the report, the Road Safety Unit revealed that vulnerable road users (pedestrians, pillion, motorcyclists and pedal cyclists) have accounted for 65 per cent of the 402 road users killed in crashes since the start of the year, and up to yesterday.

The RSU statistics revealed that the deaths had occurred from a total of 357 crashes up to Tuesday. Of the vulnerable group members who died, 130 were motorcyclists, 83 were pedestrians, 30 were pedal cyclists and 18 were pillion passengers. Westmoreland, Hanover, St James, and Trelawny accounted for 39 per cent of the motorcyclists killed in the crashes.

This represented a two per cent decrease in fatalities, when compared to the similar period in 2019. However, it marked another failure on the part of road safety experts to have the annual figure reduced to below the targeted 300 deaths – a task which has escaped the road safety experts for the past seven years.

Director of the RSU, Kenute Hare, said that the deaths are of grave concern, and criticised the motorcyclists for continuing to disobey the law and resisting the wearing of a helmet, when operating a motorcycle.

“Excessive speeding, improper overtaking, pedestrian error and failure to keep left are the main reasons why we are having these deaths occurring,” Hare stated.

In addition, he is encouraging drivers/motorists, who transport passengers, to ensure that they, as well as their passengers, are wearing seat belts.

“Motorists should never modify an adult seat belt to make it fit a child and should instead use the appropriate child seat,” Hare insisted.

The report provides an analysis of traffic crashes that occurred as at December 10, 2020. The traffic crash data quoted fundamental guidelines for reporting and classifying traffic crashes as defined by the Road Safety Unit.

The main criteria are: the crash has been reported to the police, the crash occurred on a road open to and used by the public, whether the road is public or private and the crash involved a vehicle, which, at the time of the accident, was in motion.

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