Education key to reducing fatalities
CHRIS Hind, general manager at JN General Insurance Company (JNGI), said Jamaica has one of the highest rate of road fatalities. He was speaking to members of the Area Four Police Civic Committee at their annual general meeting in downtown Kingston recently.
"In the United Kingdom, there are seven road fatalities per 100,000 vehicles each year. If you double that number, you have the USA's number of 15 road deaths per 100,000 vehicles. Triple that to get to Trinidad and Tobago's number, which is 44, and raise that number by half again or alternatively multiply the UK's number by 9.3 and you have Jamaica at 65 deaths per 100,000 every year," the JNGI boss said.
"The numbers are shocking, but unfortunately, not entirely surprising because of the standard of driving I see on our roads every day," he said.
"Education at all levels is critical to improving road use, but especially for our children."
Children continue to account for a great number of pedestrian fatalities. Sixteen children (0-15 years old) out of 89 pedestrian fatalities were killed last year. Three have been killed so far this year.
An education programme targeting children is being carried out in conjunction with the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), JN Foundation and FIA Foundation.
The organisations have established clubs aptly named JAA Junior Clubs in secondary schools close to hot spots across the island. These clubs are designed to inform and educate young people to improve their road use behaviour, by raising interest in mechanical-related disciplines and careers as well as motor sports.
"Some 41 clubs have been established of the 50 targeted schools across the country so far, and there is a lot of interest and excitement in these schools about the initiatives, with many of the students implementing their own initiatives to improve road use habits," Hind explained.
"In Western Jamaica, for instance, some school clubs have collaborated to stage road safety marches to encourage better road usage as we lead up to the highly anticipated Boys' and Girls' Champs next month; and one school in Kingston will also be dedicating the month of April to observe road safety with a series of activities," Hind said.