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Road deaths rising

BY BALFORD HENRY
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 30, 2021

With road traffic fatalities already close to 150, there is a growing fear that the figures could rise above last year's more than 400 figure.

Local traffic czar Kenute Hare, who heads the Island Traffic Authority (ITA), says that while the 146 road deaths is five more than the figure at this time last year, there is growing concern about the multiple deaths being recorded.

For example, five people died and several were admitted to hospitals, after a public-passenger minibus suffered a blown out tyre and landed on a median on April 12. Four more people were killed, when a vehicle taking them home, more than three hours after the nightly curfew came into effect, on April 25.

He added that 35 people have been killed in road traffic crashes which occurred after curfew hours have started.

“So, 146 people have died. The figure should be far less than this. But it is a perennial problem; speeding and flouting road etiquette is the main problem. Therefore I am again beseeching our people to stop taking road safety as a joke: It is not,” Hare commented.

“The COVID protocols are there to be adhered to, and we are appealing to our people to work with the programme. They are doing some things that are not right, and they need to shape up and work with the protocols,” Hare added.

He said that another issue that needs to be highlighted is the fact that the vast majority of people who die from these crashes are men.

“I would like to appeal to all male road users to be more careful on the road. Think about your family,” he said, pointing to the fact that only 19 were females were included in the 146 deaths.

“We need to be safe for the family. We cannot continue like,” Hare emphasised.

He noted that Trelawny and Westmoreland were the dominant parishes in terms of road deaths with a joint total of 46.

Turning to motorcyclists, Hare said that while the road safety apparatus, including the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), the Road Safety Unit (RSU) at the Ministry of Transport and Mining and the Island Traffic Authority(ITA) have high levels of motorcycle deaths.

Another problem, he noted, was that the area between St Elizabeth and Clarendon, where 14 motorcyclists have died since the start of the year, is responsible for 31 of the 49 motorcyclists who have died since the start of the year.

Hare says he is also annoyed with the motorcyclists who insist on driving on the white line, which runs down the middle of major roads.

“There is a mindset among some motorcyclists that the white line is theirs. That's the philosophy they have and that is very dangerous,” he noted.

Hare said he was also appealing to motor vehicle passengers, especially those travelling in private vehicles, to be careful because 46 people were killed in private motor vehicles, 17 of whom were passengers and 29 were drivers.

“A lot of them were not wearing seatbelts. But, you know seat belts give you only a fighting chance to survive the accidents. However, high levels of kinetic energy will cause your demise even if you are wearing seat belts,” he pointed out.

Hare said that the ITA is appealing to drivers to check their vehicles, as well as the fitness issues which might lead to crashes.

“Check the motor vehicle fitness to see if the mileage on the fitness is close to that on the speedometer,” he said, as he appealed to drivers to seek to keep their vehicles in the best of conditions to help reduce the number of road deaths.