‘Give the gift of safety’
MOTORISTS are being advised to exercise greater caution on the roads to reduce the possibility of fatal crashes, especially after leaving entertainment events tired or imbibed.
This warning comes from head of the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB), Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Gary McKenzie, who in an audio release noted that over the 72 hours leading to Monday about five people died as a result of road traffic crashes, and in other instances, people suffered serious injuries.
“One of the things that we have noted is that a number of drivers have been tested and have proven to be driving with excess alcohol. We have also noticed that persons are driving and are not keeping in their lanes, meaning that they are not driving to the left of the road, are driving to the right and in some instances, it has resulted in traffic crashes,” he said.
ACP McKenzie noted that as people enjoy themselves throughout this holiday season, it is also important that they are mindful they need to take personal responsibility and ensure that they drive according to the rules of the road.
“It is very important that as we go through the season towards the end of the year that we are very careful on the roadways. It makes no sense that we drive at excessive speeds and that we make haste to go where we are going,” he said.
The PSTEB head said that the police are out there in their numbers “and we are trying our best to ensure that we are visible to ensure that we occupy highways, main roads and townships to ensure that persons travel from one place to another safely”.
He warned however, that it makes no sense that as motorists pass a police checkpoint they speed up “because this spells danger.”
“We want to encourage persons as well that if you are very tired after going to entertainment events, please try and stop at a police station; get some rest before you move along. We can’t afford to lose any more persons before the end of this year, so please drive carefully,” he pleaded.
In the meantime, speaking with the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday, education and information officer, Road Safety Unit, Island Traffic Authority, Dontae Matthews, reminded the travelling public to “cut the speed, wear protective gear, put away distractions, and specifically for the festive season, have a designated driver if you plan on drinking alcohol”.
“Be patient with other road users and give the gift of safety. It is important that drivers check their vehicles before going on a journey, as mechanical faults can contribute to road crashes,” he further advised.
Matthews noted that Jamaica recorded 415 road fatalities up to December 26, 2023 and that analysis of data from the Road Safety Unit shows that motorcyclists, private motor vehicle passengers and pedestrians accounted for the highest number of fatalities.
“Also, Westmoreland, St Catherine, and St Andrew recorded the highest number of fatalities. Males accounted for 87 per cent of the fatalities with 360 of the 415 lives lost,” he said.