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Spike in road deaths

Friday, September 05, 2014    

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SINCE last Thursday, 18 persons have been killed on the island's roads, bringing the total so far this year to 220 -- an eight per cent increase over last year's tally at this time.

Kenute Hare — director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing — say the current trend is worrying.

"We really need the support of all road users to help keep the figures down. People are dying unnecessarily... It really has not been a good week," Hare told Auto.

On Wednesday, 32-year-old Kharian Durrant and her five-year-old daughter, Jasian Haynes, of Hellshire Heights in St Catherine, were killed after a taxi they were travelling in ran into a light pole.

Prior to that, three persons, including a one-year-old, were killed in a two-vehicle collision in St Ann, which also injured nine other persons; two people, a taxi driver and a passenger died in Holland Bamboo; a pedestrian died as a result of injuries suffered when hit by a motor vehicle on the Spanish Town Bypass in St Catherine.

Hare told Auto that failure of drivers to keep in their traffic lane has been a major factor in several fatal crashes.

"That alone accounted for six of the deaths," he said. "We are currently in dialogue with the Police Traffic Headquarters with a view to find out from the Cybercrimes Unit if cellphones played a part in their deaths."

Dr Morais Guy, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, expressed condolences to the families of persons who were affected during a slew of motor vehicle crashes recently.

He urged road users to observe all safety practices.

"If road users drive at a speed that is appropriate for road conditions, within the speed limit in built-up areas, wear seat belts, use properly fitted child restraints, practise defensive driving and avoid driving when fatigued or impaired, the number of deaths and injuries from traffic collisions and crashes can significantly be reduced and avoided. It's every motorist's and road users' responsibility to conduct themselves and operate their vehicles in a safe way," he said.

Minister Guy is encouraging parents and guardians to play their part in educating their children on proper road usage.

"Children need assistance in dealing with the traffic environment until at least the age of 12, as they are not equipped physically or developmentally to make the crucial decisions to keep them safe. Parents have a significant role to play in educating and introducing proper road usage to their children at an early age. The onus is on parents to help keep them safe in the dangerous traffic environment that can result in their deaths," he said.

Statistics from the Road Safety Unit reveal that vulnerable road users: pedestrians, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists and pillion riders account for the highest number of persons being killed as a result of motor vehicle collisions. Seventy-seven per cent of pedestrians killed were males while 23 per cent were females. In addition, passengers of private and public motor vehicles accounted for 22 per cent, while pedestrians accounted for 35 per cent of road users being killed to date.

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