Safety campaign targets males

Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment

Friday, February 22, 2019

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IN an effort to reduce the carnage on the island's roadways, the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) is embarking on a public education campaign targeting males, who, according to stats, factor heavily in fatal crashes.

The new campaign, with its message being 'It Could Be You', was launched at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew recently.

Dr Lucien Jones, NRSC's vice-chairman, shared the campaign's aims and objectives.

“This campaign is unique compared to previous ones undertaken by the NRSC. This one is appealing to the males. We're hoping that with its pointed message: 'It Could Be You', it sends a message for the target audience to take personal responsibility for their safety on the roadways,” Jones told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

According to figures from the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, road fatality figure currently stands at 57, with males numbering 54. This spike in fatalities when compared to the corresponding period last year with 46 deaths of which 42 were males.

“Males account for approximately 80 per cent of the road fatalities. We're hoping the campaign will have an impact and drive down the number of people dying on the roads. We're doing the campaign in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. It will be running for three to six months on radio, TV, newspapers and billboards,” said the vice-chairman.

The campaign hopes to mitigate drinking and driving; driving recklessly; smoking of marijuana while driving; speeding; and distractions, such as cell phone use, while at the steering wheel.

According to the RSU stats, males have perennially factored heavily in the fatalities. Last year 389 people were killed, with 336 being males; in 2017 a total of 332 died in fatal crashes and 273 were males; and in 2016, a total of 379 were killed and of that amount 317 were males.

In previous campaigns, the NRSC has sought to use prominent athletes to get their message across. One campaign was built around two-time Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.

That advert saw the sprint queen disguised as a school warden and assisting some children across a pedestrian crossing. On reaching the other side, she reveals herself then quizzes them on road safety.

“We used Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce as she is easily recognisable because of her outstanding accomplishments,” Paula Fletcher, NRSC executive director, told the Observer in a previous interview. “So it would be easy for her to get the message across.”

In 2008, Fraser-Pryce won the 100-metre gold at the Olympics in Beijing, China. Four years later, she successfully defended her title in London.

In May 2013, she claimed the 100-metre title at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai. A week before, she won the 200m in the season-opener in Doha, Qatar.

“In the past, we have used [former Olympic 400-metre champion] Melaine Walker and the Reggae Boyz. We even got permission from the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt, to use a tagline with his photo,” she added.

Established in 1993 and chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the NRSC is a non-profit organisation with a mandate to develop and implement road safety promotional activities and conduct public education programmes.

The council launched its 'Below 300' campaign in 2008 aimed at reducing road fatalities below that figure. This was achieved in 2012 when 260 fatalities were recorded.

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