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By Balford Henry
Observer senior reporter

Friday, November 08, 2019

MINISTER of Transport and Mining, Robert Montague, is appealing to motorists to exercise greater caution to contain the number of deaths on the roads.

Montague made his appeal earlier this week as the recorded number of road deaths hasten towards the largest number in a decade, as it looks set to pass the 400 figure by the end of December.

“Even as we are faced with the highest road fatality rate in over a decade, it is not too late. We have 63 days left to ensure that not one more fatality occurs on our roads… with dedicated effort and consistent discipline, we can change the culture displayed on the nation's roads,” he told guests at last week Wednesday's ninth annual 'On the Road on the Job' International Safety Workshop organised by Grennell's Driving School in New Kingston.

He said that safety on the nation's roads should be everyone's responsibility, whether as a driver, or a passenger, a pedestrian, motorcyclist or cyclist.

“We do not take safety personally. It is always not applicable to us. We hear about the crashes; we have become immune to it. It is always it won't happen to me or, it is somebody else's fault; but what happens when it happens to you?” the minister argued.

“Each time you go into that vehicle, click your seat belt. How many of us cry and mourn at funerals because our loved ones lost their lives in a road crash, but yet we go back in the funeral procession and speed because [we believe] it won't happen to us?” he added.

It was announced from as early as September that for the seventh year in a row, Jamaica would have failed to meet the national target of less than 300 road deaths, as the numbers flashed past the dreaded figure.

Now, it is even worst, because there are projections that the figure will surpass 400 deaths.

Director of the Road Safety Unit (RSU) at the Transport and Mining Ministry, Kanute Hare, confirmed on Wednesday that there were 354 deaths up to then, compared to 310 in 2018.

Hare said that it seemed certain that figure would surpass the 400 mark, but that the RSU would continue its efforts to keep it as low as possible.

Last year 386 people died on Jamaica's roads, making 2018 the deadliest in 15 years. Current projections are that it will break the 400 barrier for the first time since 2002 when 408 people were killed on the nation's streets.