CO-CHAIRMAN of National Road Safety Council Dr Lucien Jones says recent data has revealed that most motorcyclists who die in crashes were not wearing a helmet.
Dr Jones made the disclosure at a project steering committee meeting of the National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project, which was held recently at the offices of JN Foundation on Belmont Road in St Andrew.
"Our data show that 90 per cent of motorcyclists who died on our roads were not wearing a helmet. The helmet use is not very high [in Jamaica]," he noted during the steering committee meeting.
Dr Terry Smith, principal scientist at Galeatus, LLC based in the United States, who presented compelling evidence of the helmet's life-saving potential, underscored that the mission of the coalition should be to ensure that helmets are firmly secured on the heads of motorcyclists, emphasising the pivotal role they play in reducing fatalities.
"Your mission therefore becomes to get helmets on the heads [of motorcyclists]. If we can get helmets on their heads we can start to make a difference," he pointed out to the steering committee.
The committee was formed following the signing of an agreement with National Road Safety Council, JN Foundation, and FIA Foundation to establish the National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project. The three-year agreement, valued at 750,000 euros, was signed in August.
One major concern discussed by the committee was the influx of counterfeit and substandard helmets into the country. Dr Smith strongly advocated for strict measures to regulate the importation of such inferior products, which offer little to no protection in the event of a crash. He argued that eliminating these counterfeit helmets from the market is essential for the safety of motorcyclists.
"I think we should try to get them under control — that is, try and eliminate the counterfeit [helmets] because they are not as protective as the qualified product," he suggested to address the problem.
Conrad Wiggan, chairman of Island Bikers Association and who is also a member of the committee, said the importers of the bikes get the helmets at no cost to them, and these helmets often fall below the required standards that would offer some level of protection in the event of a crash.
"It is so cheap that the manufacturers distribute it to the importers at no cost, but what we need to do is stop the importers from bringing in the counterfeit helmets with the motorcycles — that would stop the inferior helmets from entering Jamaica," he opined.
Citing Jamaican legislation, Dr Smith suggested that Jamaica's regulations should require that importers obtain a test report to show that the helmets which are imported are compliant with the regulations for those helmets to be imported into the country.
Other members of the committee who were present include: Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, vice-president of Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica; Reverend Jayson Downer, president of Men of God Against Violence and Abuse; Orville Johnson, executive director of Insurance Association of Jamaica; Errol Edwards, president, Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association; Ambassador Alison Stone-Roofe; and Claudine Allen, general manager of JN Foundation.
The National Helmet Wearing Coalition Project's efforts to promote helmet use and eliminate counterfeit products signal a crucial step toward enhancing road safety in Jamaica, ultimately saving lives and preventing tragic motorcycle crashes.