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Sandy claims no traffic fatalities

BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter henryb@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 26, 2012    

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THERE were no traffic fatalities reported from the passage of Hurricane Sandy on Wednesday. And Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, is happy with the result.

Hare said that he was satisfied that motorists have been paying attention to the safe-driving appeals as well as the job the police have been doing to control traffic.

"My unit has no report of any traffic fatalities," Hare told Auto.

However, he confirmed that there were already over 200 road fatalities for 2012.

Four years ago, the National Road Safety Council started a campaign to bring road deaths below the 300 mark. It has not yet paid the expected dividends, as there were 343 road deaths in 2008; 347 in 2009; 319 in 2010; and 308 in 2011.

In fact, the last time the annual figure for Jamaica's road traffic fatalities fell below 300 was in 1999, when 295 people died.

In Hare's view, significant improvement to the traffic environment would lead to a marked reduction in fatalities.

He also raised concerns about the Jamaica Public Service Company's (JPS) erection of utility poles close to roadways.

Hare believes that JPS's post-Hurricane Sandy rehabilitation works should ensure that utility poles are not erected close to roadways and that cushions be erected around the concrete ones that have already been constructed.

"Poles close to the roads can be fatal for motorists who lose control of their vehicles," he said.

According to the director, international standards dictate a more user-friendly road environment.

"Things do happen, and we have to protect the human element," he stated.

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