Road Safety Unit sounds alarm

Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

Friday, March 09, 2018

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THE non-compliance of motorists wearing safety devices continue to be a major concern for the Ministry of Transport and Mining's Road Safety Unit (RSU). And, according to Kenute Hare, it could mean the difference between life and death.

“Eight of the 11 passengers killed since the start of the year in private motor vehicle were not wearing seat belts. Of that eight, 50 per cent of them were thrown out of the vehicles,” Hare, director of the RSU, told Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

A recent report in the media was that a father and son's Sunday ice-cream trip in St Mary ended tragically when the driver lost control of the vehicle which overturned. The nine-year-old was allegedly thrown from the vehicle and killed, while the father was hospitalised in critical condition.

The director believes the child's death was avoidable.

“If he was wearing a seat belt, he would have a fighting chance to survive. Seat belts give you a 50 per cent chance of surviving an impact as it restrains you,” he said.

Hare was also harshly critical of the motorcycle drivers and pedestrians.

“Nine motorcyclists were killed since January; none was wearing helmets. A total of 19 were killed last year and we don't want to go down that road,” he said. “Most of the pedestrians killed are at fault and were using the roadways improperly. Fifteen of them have been killed.”

Since January 1, 58 people were killed on Jamaica's road network. Last year saw a total of 321 people being killed in crashes compared to 379 the year before.

“We will continue our campaign in encouraging road users to be responsible and do the right thing,” said the director.

Hare said the new Road Traffic Act — which was passed in the House of Parliament on February 6 — will assist in the road safety fight.

“There is a misconception that the Road Traffic Act is about fine. It is about the enhancement of Jamaica's road safety apparatus and bring it into the 21st century,” he said. “We at the Road Safety Unit are looking forward to the new Road Traffic Act. Every Jamaican should read the act for themselves and know about the demerit system... it will help them to make better choices.”

The legislation will then go to the Senate where it is anticipated that its passage will receive the same level of support that was received in the Lower House. Following its passage in the Senate, it will then be sent to the Governor-General for assent, after which it will be gazetted and passed into law.

The Transport Ministry is now putting the final touches to an islandwide public education campaign that will accompany the new Road Traffic Act.

Offences under the Bill include: driving without required motor vehicle insurance coverage ($20,000); driving a motor vehicle without being the holder of a permit or driver's licence ($40,000); failure of driver to obey traffic light ($24,000); loud noises within silence zones and failure to wear a protective helmet ($5,000); failure to comply with traffic signs ($10,000); and failure to stop at pedestrian crossings ($12,000).

Formed in 1994, the RSU promotes and foster an orderly and disciplined traffic culture that is conducive to the development of a safe traffic environment through the conceptualisation, design and dissemination of a sustained programme of public information, education in schools, legislation, accident information, and research.




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