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Fewer drunk drivers last Christmas — police

Alicia Dunkley-Willis

Monday, January 13, 2014    

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HEAD of the police traffic division Deputy Superintendent Gary McKenzie says there were significant gains made during the Yuletide season with relation to road safety, despite the fact that road fatalities for the year went over the 300 mark.

"What we have been able to achieve over the holiday period was really significant. We did not actually meet our target as we had planned to hold fatal crashes below 300, but ended the year at 305. However, what I can say is that for the month of December we really put out a lot of effort and in relation to the traffic band policy it would appear that persons were much more responsible as it relates to drinking and driving with alcohol," McKenzie told the Jamaica Observer Wednesday.

The police, in partnership with the National Road Safety Council, had indicated that it would be ensuring that the Police Traffic Band policy was fully active over the holiday season. The policy, which is put into operation between midnight and 8:00 am, allows the police to stop anyone they suspect of driving under the influence and adminster breathalyser tests.

"We were able to carry out a large number of tests, [numbering] close to 1,000 for the holiday period and we had about six positive tests. That was significant; I think persons heeded the call for driving without alcohol on their breath," DSP McKenzie said.

"I must say we are very grateful, especially to those who were advertising entertainment events. We heard where persons were advised to drink responsibly, which is something the police is very grateful for," he added.

In the meantime, he said there was a "slowing down of the crashes going towards the end of December, which was a good sign". Up to last Wednesday, he said there had been a reduction in the number of crashes, in comparison to the same period last year. It is a trend the police are hoping will continue.

Meanwhile, McKenzie said the traffic police will continue to maintain their high visibility on the roads, which he said forces motorists to be more careful. He said the recent addition of a number of motor cars to the division's fleet has been helpful.

"For example, we have patrol cars along the route from Papine to Half-Way-Tree, from Constant Spring to Half-Way-Tree, from Cross Roads to Half-Way-Tree, in Three Miles, from Dunrobin to Ferry, along Marcus Garvey Drive, and other arterial roads," McKenzie said.

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