Editorial

That Usain's pain may not be in vain

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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The obvious sincerity displayed by Mr Usain Bolt and his fellow athletes in mourning the loss of their friend and colleague, Mr Germaine Mason, might be put to good use by those of us who remain behind.Some might argue this may not be the most appropriate time to raise such a discussion, given that the death and burial of Mr Mason, the high jumper, is still so raw, and the grief not yet spent, if ever it will. His loss is great to family, friends and country. And we mourn with them too.

Yet, if there is a lesson that can be learnt about how we use the roads, how we speed or not speed, how we do not endanger our lives or others, perhaps there is no better time than now to strike while the iron is hot.

One cannot, of course, make a definitive conclusion about what led to the spectacular crash of Mr Mason's motorbike at that ungodly hour of that accursed morning, without the post-mortem report. On the surface of it, there was great velocity to produce such a fatal result. But getting out of control can be of a cause not merely because of speed.

For example, the bike could have skidded on an oil slick or sand deposit, or he might have been forced to swerve from something or someone. But we know by experience that the greater the speed, the greater the likelihood of a fatal crash, the likes of which would have claimed the life of this beloved son of Jamaica.

The point is that we still are not using our roads with the greatest of care. The casualties are piling up and the toll of men dying on the roads continue. Males account for an alarming 82 per cent of the 266 crash victims so far this year, according to data released by the Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport.

The figure, which is just one person short of the 220 men who perished in road fatalities last year, is in contrast to only 47 females being killed in the 219 fatal crashes since January — eight more than last year. We are thankful that women continue to be more responsible users of the road.

It seems that the Road Safety Unit is merely whistling in the wind in its constant refrain that most of the road users involved in crashes were not wearing seat belts, because it is noteworthy that people continue to be thrown from motor vehicles as a result of disobeying road laws and refusing to wear seat belts.

Yet, the unit must not be weary in well doing. It cannot stop until the lesson is learnt and there are no more Germaine Masons to mourn.

The number of fatal crashes so far this year has decreased by nine per cent, but the total of lives lost has increased by three per cent when compared with the corresponding period in 2015.

The number of fatalities from road crashes seem to be related to the number of motor vehicles on the roadways. Trinidad and Tobago, which has more motor cars per capita than Jamaica, also has more crashes per capita.

More and more Jamaicans are acquiring cars. The message from the Road Safety Unit is therefore even more urgent.

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