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Road fatalities for 2013 rise by 17%

National Road Safety Council urges greater caution

Sunday, January 05, 2014    

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THE National Road Safety Council (NRSC) is again calling for greater caution on Jamaica's roads, as the death toll resulting from fatal traffic accidents climbed to 305 in 2013, an increase of 17 per cent over 2012.

"The problem of safety on our roads is everybody's business and we should all be concerned," urged NRSC Chairman Dr Lucien Jones.

"We are still pushing for the speedy passing of the Road Traffic Act, but in the meantime, everyone has to take responsibility where road safety is concerned," Dr Jones said.

In 2012, the number of fatalities was 260, the lowest the nation had recorded in over 20 years. It was therefore hoped that the target of no more than 240 fatalities in 2013 could have been achieved. For its part, the NRSC has been emphasising pedestrian safety as a key component in its thrust towards reducing road fatalities.

"For the past three years, pedestrians have recorded the highest number of road fatalities," Dr Jones said. "We therefore made pedestrian safety the theme for our annual Poster Competition last year," he added.

Eighty-nine pedestrians were killed in fatal accidents in 2013. This was an increase of five per cent over 2012, and accounted for 70 per cent of the total number of fatalities in 2013. Some of the basic road safety rules pedestrians are being encouraged to follow include:

* Using pedestrian crossings and overhead bridges

*Crossing only where and when it is safe to do so

* Wearing light coloured clothing at nights

* Using sidewalks where possible

Motor and pedal cyclists are the next categories of road users recording high numbers of fatalities. Of the 55 motorcyclists who died in 2013, only two were wearing helmets. Again, cyclists are being encouraged to exercise this basic preventative measure, that of wearing a helmet every time, so as to reduce the number of fatalities.

Speeding remains the number one cause of fatal road accidents.

"Road users should be aware that speed limits have been established to assist them in controlling their vehicles," noted Dr Jones.

"Exceed the speed limit, and your vehicle is converted from a mode of transportation into a lethal weapon. I am appealing to all road users to respect the lives of others and their own lives, by remaining within the legal limits of speed," he said.

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