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Target missed - Road crashes claim 304

Brian Bonitto

Friday, January 03, 2014    

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THE Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing has failed in its attempt to keep the death toll below the 300 mark.

According to figures supplied by the unit, 304 persons died on the nation's roads in 2013.

"Three hundred and four is way above what we were hoping for. We tried our best but that wasn't good enough. So we now have to get back to the drawing board," said Kenute Hare, director of the RSU.

In 2012 the death toll dipped to 260, a decline of 48 over the previous year. Prior to this, the last time there were fewer than 300 was in 1999, when 295 deaths were recorded.

Hare, who in November received the University of North Florida's Russell Arend Highway Safety Award, said his organisation would be regrouping to restrategise in the coming weeks.

"We have some serious concerns looking forward into 2014," he said.

According to Hare, at the top of the agenda is encouraging motorcycle/bicycle riders and pillions to wear protective gear.

"This morning (Thurday) a motorcyclist died on the Santoy main road in Hanover. He collided into another motorcyclist and died from his injuries. He wasn't wearing a helmet."

"On New Year's Day (Wednesday), a bicycle rider was killed in a hit-and-run incident along the Spanish Town Bypass. And a female pillion rider, who was on a motorcycle, died of head injuries on the Portmore leg of the toll road. Neither was wearing protective gear," he said.

The RSU director said the situation was even worse in Westmoreland and Hanover, as, of 50 motorcycle riders killed, only two were wearing helmets.

"We intend to have discussions with the motorcycle community and other stakeholders in those parishes by the end of January," he told Auto.

He said persons using the island's road networks should be mindful of excessive speeding, improper overtaking, and tailgating.

"For fatal collisions, excessive speeding is always a factor."

He also had a word of advice for pedestrians.

"Please wear light-coloured clothing at nights and use the sidewalks where available. Where there are no sidewalks, call the Road Safety Unit and we'll lobby the relevant authorities for them to put them in," he said.

Hare said last year, residents of Papine benefited from a similar project.

Launched in 2008, the Below 300 Campaign is an initiative launched by the National Road Safety Council and is designed at keeping road fatalities below the 300 mark.

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