Under-300 under threat; Road fatalities now stand at 290
BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto and Entertainment firstname.lastname@example.org
FROM all indications, it appears the death toll on the nation's roadways will surpass the 300 figure.
Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, said his office is "very concerned" about this situation.
"Our ability to get below 300 is not where we want it to be," he told Auto yesterday.
"The toll currently stands at 290 and we are profoundly concerned."
The director said based on projections, the figure could rise to as high as 307. However, he used the opportunity to appeal to road users.
"Breadwinners are being killed... fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, and in many instances, this could have been avoided. We're appealing to everyone, please be cognisant of how you use the roads," he said.
Hare said the Ministry of Health has spent close to $2 billion to treat road accident victims.
"If these crashes were avoided, the money could have been spent in other areas. Therefore, I'm urging all road users to be extremely careful, especially during the Christmas season. We want everyone to play their part. Seatbelts and helmets must be worn at all times," he urged.
The director said pedestrians must obey traffic signals and wear light-coloured clothing at night.
Hare said the RSU would be beefing up its campaign in Westmoreland next year.
"Thirty per cent of motorcyclists killed on the roads came from Westmoreland ... and 90 per cent were not wearing helmets... All men," he said.
Motorcycles are commonly used as a means of public transport in the parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover. As many as three persons are often transported on motorcycles, which are used as public-passenger vehicles.
"We will be going door-to-door in the communities and appealing to families to ensure that once a motorcycle is in the house, they must also ensure the rider has the proper headgear," he said.
The RSU, under Hare's directorship, has embarked on several road-safety programmes islandwide. The most prominent of them is the Below-300 campaign, which is geared at lowering the island's traffic fatalities to fewer than 300.
This was achieved last year when 256 persons lost their lives on the roadways.