After losing two sisters in separate motor vehicle crashes, brother joins calls for more road safety systemsThursday, July 22, 2021
BY JASON CROSS
Oniel Montague — the brother of Suzanne Smart, the 29-year-old woman who died a few days after being involved in a motor vehicle crash on June 6, on the Burnt Ground main road in Hanover — has added his voice to calls for the Government to introduce electronic stability control (ECS) systems for motor vehicles.
The push for the mandatory use of ECS on motor vehicles are being led by Vice-Chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) Dr Lucien Jones.
Last week Jones told the Jamaica Observer that in a recent meeting his team impressed upon Prime Minister Andrew Holness the importance of having an entity such as the Bureau of Standards Jamaica providing oversight to ensure the importation of motorbikes and other vehicles with strong braking systems as well as electronic stability control technology.
ECS is computer-based technology that enhances a vehicle's stability by identifying and minimising skidding. Whenever the computer detects loss of steering control, brakes are automatically applied to prevent the vehicle from veering off the road or into oncoming vehicular traffic.
Following the thanksgiving service for his sister on Tuesday , Montague argued that if the motor vehicle his sister was travelling in had been equipped with ESC technology the car may not have veered to the right of the road and into a concrete utility pole.
“Suzie would still be alive,” declared Montague.
“I agree with him [Jones] 100 per cent. We need those stuff and better roads too. The roads are bad and the simplest thing like a pothole can cause an accident. There was a puddle of water and if there was proper drainage, the water would run off.
“I am very speechless where my sister is concerned. It was less than a month apart that I lost two sisters tragically on the roads. My sister Cornelia Montague died on April 12 and was buried on May 20. On June 8 we lost Suzanne. The family is very devastated right now. It is very hard for everyone, but we have to take it in strides. My mother is taking it very hard because this is the third child she has lost,” added Montague.
He said the images were still fresh in his mind of his older sister's, Cornelia Montague-Clarke, gory accident scene on the PJ Patterson Highway in April.
Less than one month later a 2010 Fielder motor car, in which Smart, a mother of five was travelling, heading towards Anchovy, ran into a pool of water on a slight curve. The driver lost control of the vehicle which veered off the road and crashed into a pole.
The driver died on spot, while Smart and her one-year-old baby, Lavondra Birch were injured. They were taken to hospital where Smart was placed on a life support machine. She died two days later. The baby was treated and released.
At the thanksgiving service on Tuesday, Smart's nephew, Kemar McCallum, remembered her compassion, generosity and love for life. He said his aunt was the epitome of fun and excitement.
“Even from a tender age, she was well beyond her years. We spent countless hours together playing games, giving each other trouble and staying up late at nights to enjoy a party or a shot of alcohol. She was a prankster, who enjoyed laughing and making others laugh.
“Suzie would always have a joke or a funny story to tell. I loved her positive energy, always. She could brighten the darkest days. She cared a lot for her friends and family and would do anything to help them. I am honoured, that she was my aunt,” said McCallum.
Yesterday, the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport reported that 260 people had lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes across the island since the start of this year. This was 12 per cent more than the 233 people who died in road crashes in the same period last year.
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