Almost 100 people killed on roads during curfew hoursWednesday, September 01, 2021
BY BALFORD HENRY
THE Island Traffic Authority (ITA) is to join the Road Safety Unit (RSU) and the police in an effort to restrict the growing number of road deaths, especially at nights.
Director of the authority, Kenute Hare, says that he is aware that the number of these deaths during the curfew hours has increased considerably, creating concern that 2021 could be the bloodiest year on Jamaica's roads.
“We are increasing the number of spot checks, both day and night, and we are intensifying the monitoring of the roads islandwide. We are working with the police on these nightly spot checks, as well as in the days, because we believe that there are persons out there whose intent is on creating mayhem in the traffic environment,” Hare stated.
Hare was reacting to a statement issued by the police last week that close to 100 people have died on the roads at nights, during curfew hours, since the start of this year.
Figures released recently by the RSU, an agency of the Ministry of Transport and Mining, also pointed to the fact that with well over 300 people already dying in motor vehicle crashes, many of which normally occur well into the nightly curfew hours, the figure could grow beyond the 440 deaths recorded in 2019.
Last year, 432 deaths occurred on the nation's roads, even while the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) continued efforts to reduce the figure to closer to 300. So with well over 300 road deaths already confirmed for the first eight months of this year, there is fear that this could lead to another bad year like 2019.
In the meantime, acting director of the RSU, Deidre Hudson Sinclair, has appealed to motorists to cut their speed, noting that the 300 road deaths so far include 54 multiple fatalities.
She said that the fatalities have occurred at known black spots, as well as on major motorways, and the statistics also highlight that motorcycle fatalities continue to represent the majority of road user deaths on the network, at 36 per cent. This is followed by private motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians, who are each at 19 per cent, and private motor vehicle passengers at 13 per cent.
“Vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists, pedestrians and pillions, account for 63 per cent of the fatalities. The Road Safety Unit is, therefore, imploring persons who fall into this category to remain vigilant and exercise caution on the roads,” she said.
“Persons, particularly motorists and pedestrians who continue to use the road network improperly, should exercise greater caution on the roads,” she insisted.
The ITA has also cautioned drivers against dark tinting of their vehicles, especially the windscreens, which affects the visibility of other drivers at nights.
“I don't know where they got this madness about tinting windscreens from. It's a real joke,” said Hare, who was recently promoted to head of the ITA from head of the RSU.
“We at the ITA are removing the plates off the tinted vehicles. So don't let us have to remove your plates for that. Take all the fandangles off the vehicles. These red, orange and blue lights that you are driving around with at nights, and that white blinding light, remove them, because if we remove them it is going to cost you $13,800 to replace them,” he said.
He also warned against using a foreign licence plate covered by a local plate, and asked drivers to ensure that the light that reflects on the plates is working.
“The ITA is an entity for road safety good, and we are going to enforce all the vehicular and road safety components of the Road Traffic Act,” he said..
He noted that the long delayed Act empowers the ITA to ensure safety on the roads, in order to reduce injuries and deaths from crashes. The authority will also be able to suspend driver's licences for various violations.
In May this year, chairman of the National Road Safety Council Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for more financial aid to developing countries, including Jamaica, to help with sustainable measures to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries.
He made the appeal while delivering the keynote address at a United Nations (UN) Global Road Safety Webinar hosted by the council in Kingston.
Hare, in welcoming the legislation, said it allows Jamaica to align its road safety operations in accordance with 21st century standards and the UN best practices for member states, in order to stem the tide of traffic crashes.
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