Speedsters, we are coming to get you this Xmas!
THE National Road Safety Council (NRSC) and the Police Traffic Division have pledged to keep a tight rein on motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, through increased speed checks and breathalyser tests.
At the same time, the council launched its six-week Road Safety Awareness Campaign for the Christmas-New Year festive season on Friday, using multimedia channels, including infomercials in the cinemas; print media; television and radio to promote speed reduction, as well as the use of a designated driver, or not driving at all, once alcohol is consumed.
With fears that the island's road deaths for this year, standing at 290, could surpass the dreaded 300 figure, Convenor of the NRSC Dr Lucien Jones pleaded with road users: "Let's not have another death or injury on our roads. Simply put, whenever you choose to speed excessively, you are choosing death over life. Speeding and reckless driving continue to be the major causes of the mayhem on our roads... I am appealing to every motorist to drive within the required speed limit, and to exercise caution. By so doing you will be saving your own life and the lives of several others," the NRSC vice chairman said.
For its part, the JCF Traffic Division has indicated that it would be ensuring that the Police Traffic Band Policy was fully active this holiday between midnight and 8:00 am, allowing the police to stop anyone suspected of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and to breath test them.
Deputy Superintendent Gary McKenzie of the JCF Traffic Division in bemoaning the "excessive speeding, overloading of vehicles and carelessness of public passenger vehicles and commercial motor carriers, especially those who drive for profit", said the police would be having a more visible presence in monitoring the roads during the Christmas-New Year season.
"We will be having more speed-checks especially in 'bad spots' or 'crash hot spots' where there have been more than two fatalities this year. We will [also] be working with examiners from the National Transport Authority," DSP McKenzie disclosed.
Crash-prone roadways or 'crash hot spots' include: Washington Boulevard and Spanish Town Road in Kingston; the Bustamante Highway and Toll Gate Main Road in Clarendon; Nelson Mandela Highway and Bog Walk Gorge in St Catherine; the Salem Main Road in St Ann; the Martha Brae Main Road in Trelawny; the Winston Jones Highway in Manchester; the Rose Hall Main Road in St James, and Norman Manley Boulevard in Westmoreland.
A breakdown of the crash data from the NRSC shows that there have been 287 fatal crashes this year in, which pedestrians have been the most affected road users. The news for cyclists and private motor vehicles (PMV) was also disturbing. Between January 1 and December 13, 86 pedestrians, 50 motorcyclists, 48 PMC passengers, 45 PMC drivers and 25 pedal cyclists lost their lives. In comparison, for the January 1 to December 13 period in 2012, fatalities showed increases of 12 per cent for pedestrians, 25 per cent for motorcyclists, 67 per cent for pedal cyclists and 17 per cent for PMC passengers.
Pillion passenger deaths leaped from three to eight over the corresponding period for last year, prompting renewed calls for the use of safety helmets and more responsible overtaking and riding practices.