Biker deaths concern 'Cutter'
MARLON 'Crazy Cutter' Fletcher has already burnt his name in tarmac through stunt riding. His daring acrobatic skills see him lifting and spinning his super bikes to the delight of adoring fans.
A co-founder of the Kingston-based Crazy Bikers Crew, Fletcher is an advocate of road safety. He feels a revamp of the current motorcycle licensing structure could lead to fewer road deaths.
"It is too easy to get a learner's licence and start riding on roads, even though the rider does not know the rules of the road and cannot adequately operate the motorcycle. That system should be discontinued, because it is proving to be deadly," said the 39-year-old Fletcher.
Since the start of the year, 160 persons have perished on our roads. Of that number, 20 were motorcyclists. Romario Richards, 20, of Westmoreland, was the latest fatality.
Richards died on Tuesday after he lost control of his motorcycle, slamming into a minibus which was travelling in the opposite direction. He was pronounced dead at hospital.
Fletcher, who is managing director of Aklamar Couriers, believes operators of super bikes and smaller units should be given separate licences.
"Smaller bikers are easier to manoeuvre, especially around corners, while the super bikes are extremely powerful and can corner at high speeds," he said.
He said oftentimes smaller motorcycles are used to procure the learner's licence and once it has been received, the smaller units are discarded for the super bikes.
Fletcher, who has been conducting riding classes since 2004, says more emphasis should be placed on the testing of prospective riders, especially their ability to respond to situations.
"The tests should involve the staging of scenarios that are real to life, using cones for people, of course, " he said.
In addition, he has suggested that the current fine of $500 for not wearing a helmet is not a deterrent to breaking the law.
"The fine needs to be increased, if the authorities want adherence," he said.
Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, agrees that adherence to the rules of the road by motorcyclists is proving to be a challenge.
"Lack of protective gear is a serious issue. The rider needs to strap the helmet securely onto the head, in order to give themselves a fighting chance in case of an accident," he warned.
He is also of the view that protective gear should also include elbow pads, knee pads and jackets.
Hare said all motorcycle riders killed were males, 15 of whom were between 17 and 37 years old. However, of the three pillion riders who died, two were females between 20 and 29 years old - none of whom was wearing a helmet.
"In fact, I think it is irresponsible for riders to transport passengers if they have a learner's licence."
The RSU director said with the assistance of the Traffic Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, his organisation has taken the message of road safety to communities and schools.
"We met with the members of Rhodes Hall community of Hanover in April. We also made presentations to students from Hopewell High [Hanover]; William Knibb Memorial High [Trelawny]; Newell High [St Elizabeth]; Munro College [St Elizabeth]; Papine High [St Andrew], and Eltham High [St Catherine]," he said.
Hare said the fourth to sixth form students were given lessons in the use of protective devices, how to prepare for collisions and distractions that can appear in the traffic environment.