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Survey to boost road safety thrust

By Balford Henry Observer senior reporter

Friday, September 07, 2012    

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THE Ministry of Education has completed a schools survey to assess the level of road safety education in the system, and the hazards faced by students.

The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) says the results will play an important role in the dialogue between Council and the Ministry in determining what programmes and additional road safety measures may have to be implemented in educational institutions.

According to Paula Fletcher, Executive Director, NRSC, the survey will be of vital importance in strengthening the framework of child safety in Jamaica.

"The Ministry of Education is now in the process of doing the compilation and analysis of the data. We are awaiting the findings," she said. She also noted that the findings from the survey will assist in standardizing road safety programmes in schools, including input to the curriculum.

Meanwhile, the NRSC is welcoming the significant reduction in child road fatalities and injuries. NRSC data has revealed that between January 1 and August 29 this year, there was a 60 per cent reduction in the death of children, in comparison to the same period last year. During the first 8 months of 2011, 38 children died on the roads, while during the corresponding period this year, 15 children lost their lives. This improvement comes on the heels of a disturbing trend last year, where there was a 15 per cent upswing in child fatalities, in comparison to 2010.

"We are pleased with the substantial reduction in child fatalities, but that is still not good enough. Jamaica will not be road safe for our children, until we have none of our children losing their lives on our streets," says Dr. Lucien Jones, vice chairman/convenor at the, NRSC.

Dr Jones also points to the fact that there has also been a significant reduction in road fatalities in several other categories of road users, and in the overall death toll on the roads.

Road crash fatalities declined from 210 during January to August 29 last year, to 168 for the same period this year, representing a 20 per cent reduction. The most noticeable reductions were in the categories of pillion passengers, which declined by 67 per cent; pedal cyclists which went down by 65 per cent, public passenger vehicle (PPV) passengers, which fell by 58 per cent, and pedestrians, which decreased by 35 per cent.

However, still of concern to the NRSC is the hike in the deaths of motorcyclists, private motorcar drivers and commercial motor carrier drivers. Of interest is the fact that while there has been a 25 per cent increase in the deaths of PPV drivers, there has been a 58 per cent reduction in the deaths of PPV passengers.

The National Road Safety Council was established in 1993 as a non-profit organization by public and private sector interest groups. Its mandate is to develop and implement road safety promotional activites and conduct public education programmes, and to act as a lobby group for the promotion of road safety. Activities are undertaken with the overall aim of reducing the level of accidents and lowering the cost to society both in terms of human suffering and financial cost.

The Council is chaired by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.

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