UNDER the theme 'Jamaica 50, Road Safety fi all a wi', the Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo 2012 was launched at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre in St Andrew on Wednesday.
The event — now in its fourth year and put on by Grennell's Driving School — will be held at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on Saturday, June 16 starting at 10:00 am.
According to Alphonso Grennell, the expo's chairman, the aim is to educate all road users. This year also sees cooperation with the National Road Safety Council and their Below 300 campaign with its thrust to reduce traffic fatalities islandwide to below the 300 mark.
"On November 17 we will be having a 5K run, with the proceeds going towards the getting specific car-rescue equipment for the Jamaica Fire Brigade," he told the gathering.
Milton Samuda, president of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and keynote speaker Richard Azan, state minister in the ministry of transport, works and housing, both focused on the cost to society as a result of road accidents.
"We tend to blame road conditions, but the truth is closer to home — our own driving behaviour," Azan said. Samuda spoke on the medical costs, and the loss of productivity caused by road accidents.
However, it was the tear-jerking testimony of accident victim Stephanie Whyte that stamped the point home.
"I was sleeping in the back of the car. I didn't even know when the accident happened. I woke up in the hospital unable to move," she told the audience, her voice cracking on occasion as she recounted the painful memories of her stressful road to partial recovery.
After three surgeries, she is still unable to use her left hand, walk unassisted, and continues to attend rehabilitation sessions.
"I don't want anyone to go through what I did," she said, holding back the tears. "I ask that people cut down on the speed, or come off the cell phone."
The need to reduce speed was echoed by race-car driver David Summerbell Jr, who was representing his sponsor Total. He spoke to the topic indicating that local motorsports has a role to play in making the roads safe.
"Don't race on the roads. You'll never be a champion driving fast on the road," he said, asking for those seeking their thrills on the public thoroughfares to take advantage of the entry-level classes available in the various motor racing disciplines.