Editorial

What the deaths of Ms Abigail Rowe, DJ 'Venom' tell us

Friday, November 29, 2019

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The deaths earlier this week of two young Jamaicans — Miss Abigail Rowe, a 21-year-old University of Technology, Jamaica student, and 40-year-old Mr Raymond Peart, who goes by the appellation “DJ Venom” — have highlighted the need for even greater introspection among us about the way we use our roads.

Mr Peart, we are told by the police, was driving his Honda CBR motorcycle along the Spanish Town Bypass, en route to Old Harbour in St Catherine, when he collided with Miss Rowe in the vicinity of March Pen Road on Monday night.

Both sustained multiple injuries and were taken to Spanish Town Hospital where they were pronounced dead.

Just like that. Two people in the prime of their lives — gone for good. Leaving their families, friends and colleagues in pain and, most likely, asking “Why?”

Without eyewitness accounts of this horrible crash we are unable to make any judgements about its cause.

What we can, however, comment on is the fact that too many Jamaicans are dying on our roads.

The latest data from the Ministry of Transport's Road Safety Unit show that, up to yesterday 386 people have been killed in 353 fatal crashes since the start of this year.

Fatal crashes and fatalities, the unit also told us, have increased by 16 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively when compared with the similar period last year. Pedestrians account for 25 per cent of road users killed since the start of the year; private motor vehicle drivers, 15 per cent; private motor vehicle passengers, 12 per cent; and motorcyclists, 30 per cent.

Based on the current rate, the Road Safety Unit is projecting that road fatalities for this year will increase by seven per cent, compared with 2018.

That is not encouraging news, given that last year 305 fatal crashes took from among us 345 people, the majority of them in the 20-44 age group.

With just over four weeks remaining in this year, and as we enter the festive season when spirits tend to be high, we are hoping that there will be a significant reduction in the recklessness that we see on the roads daily.

We appeal to our fellow Jamaicans to drive, ride, and walk with care. As we have argued in this space before, it cannot be beyond us to get this problem under control, as not only is it diminishing our human resources, but is proving to be a financial drain on our health services and leaving families and friends of road death victims in emotional pain.

Of course, we expect that this appeal, like many others issued by the authorities and concerned Jamaicans, will be ignored by the Barbarian horde, the majority of whom operate route taxis, Coaster buses, and motorcyclists on our roads daily. Their reckless behaviour will not be curbed without enforcement of the law governing road use.

It has taken legislators more than five years to finalise the new Road Traffic Act. Now we are being told that there is another delay in the regulations necessary for the operation of the Act. Therefore, the law will not be ready to be enforced until the end of this year.

The enactment of this legislation, we reiterate, cannot happen too soon. What we hope, though, is that when it is ready to be applied, it will be enforced without fear or favour.


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