NRSC leads drive to prevent holiday crashes
THE National Road Safety Council (NRSC) and the National Health Fund will be partnering with other key stakeholders to carry out a critical, high priority drive to prevent road crashes over the upcoming holiday period.
The NRSC's other partners in the impactful, trail-blazing safety measures planned include: the promoters of the internationally popular gala ATI party series scheduled for Negril over the holidays; the Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing (MTWH); the Police Traffic Headquarters; the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) and Total Group & Service Stations.
They will be collaborating to promote safety and save precious lives, over the August 1-6 holiday period. This promises to feature Jamaica's biggest ever Independence and Festival finals celebrations, a host of Jamaica 50 events, as well as the mega-party series hosted by the ATI promoters in Negril, plus countless private fetes, family reunions and 'homecomings' by Jamaicans from the diaspora.
Dr Lucien Jones, NRSC vice chairman/convener, is urging every road user to play their part and take personal responsibility for their own safety on the roads. He notes that all road safety promotion systems will be at 'full throttle' during this high activity, celebratory period.
NRSC Executive Director Paula Fletcher has high commendation for the ATI promoters who have arranged a JUTC Shuttle bus system to/from Negril with stop points along the way. Buses will leave HWT Transportation Centre, Spanish Town Lay By, Portmore Mall Lay By and Manor Park Plaza daily. Bus tickets should be purchased by Tuesday, July 31, and are available at ATI ticket outlets.
Fletcher further commends the ATI promoters for taking a stand on preventing underage drinking by implementing an age verification system. ATI will not be admitting anyone under 18 to the parties. ID's will be checked and patrons over the prescribed age will be issued with the 'I AM LEGAL ' armband."
The NRSC executive director continues: "The main road safety message being promoted at the ATI Redemption Centre planned for August 3-6 will be 'Designate a Driver, Designate a Drive'. All the season band holders have to pass through this centre to exchange their tickets for bands, so we will have a 'crash car 'strategically placed there, draped with the message 'don't drink and die'."
Fletcher adds: "The 'crash car' will have been branded in Kingston, and on its journey across Jamaica to Negril, it will function as a mobile ad for not drinking and driving. Also at the Negril redemption centre, a rejuvenation station will be set up, with coffee, tea, juice, water, soup, and soda to assist partygoers who have 'had too much', to recuperate."
Michael Tucker, executive director of the National Council on Drug Abuse, adds that his organisation's Substance Officers will be at the rejuvenation station to carry out the following critical functions:
* Educating patrons about the amount of units of alcohol in each alcoholic drink they consume;
* Providing information on guidelines for sensible drinking as set out by the World Health Organisation/Pan-American Health Organisation (WHO/PAHO);
* Discussing with patrons the amount of alcohol they consume at each sitting, and whether or not their usual amounts are problematic.
Also at the redemption centre, hostesses will be in place to usher revellers to the rejuvenation station, and to the 'crash car', where they will hear the road safety message. Wave rags, water bottles, draw string bags and bumper stickers with road safety branding will be handed out.
The police will heighten their operations during the holiday period. Officers have been recalled from leave and desk officers deployed to the roads, to ensure that drivers observe the rules of the road. Their speed reduction operations will be fully functional, to ensure drivers observe speed limits.
Head of Traffic, Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis warns that the police Traffic Band Policy will be fully active this holiday. That means that main and arterial roads leading from entertainment venues will be monitored for dangerous driving and drunk driving.
The Policy operates between midnight and 8:00 am, and allows the Police to stop anyone they suspect of driving under the influence (DUI), and to breath test them. Generally, it allows for a stricter enforcement of penalties against any infractions under the Road Traffic Act.
The breathalyser centres are up and running, islandwide, and the police have ensured an adequate supply of the hand-held breathalyser screening devices carried by personnel from the Traffic and Motorised and Highway Patrol Divisions.
Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, says he is confident that this high-priority national collaboration to ensure the safety of all road users during the upcoming holiday period will yield the desired result — that of preserving life and keeping families together.