Bikers without helmets, speeding, pushing up St Mary road deathsSunday, August 22, 2021
BY HORACE MILLS
PORT MARIA, St Mary — Motorcyclists without helmets and speeding are among the worrying trends pushing up road fatalities in this parish.
“Some of these motorcycles are extremely fast. So by the time a police would step out to stop a motorcycle they fly gone long time,” said superintendent in charge of the St Mary police, Bobette Morgan-Simpson.
The senior law enforcer told a recent monthly meeting of the parish's municipal corporation that bikers are the main victims of fatal road crashes in St Mary. Of the 11 people killed in as many crashes in St Mary since the start of the year, seven were motorcyclists — all of whom were not wearing helmets when they crashed, she said.
For the corresponding period last year, the parish recorded nine fatal crashes.
“We are having too many accidents,” Morgan-Simpson said emphatically. “We are having not just fender benders, not just slight injuries, but we are also having serious injuries happening to persons based on speeding on our roads.”
The senior officer noted that since the start of the year St Mary has recorded 310 crashes, three more than reported in the corresponding period last year.
Describing the increase as “a worrying trend”, she appealed to residents to “cut down on the speed”.
That appeal was echoed by two councillors who are concerned that some motorists are using newly repaired roads as racetracks.
“They cry for the roads but when they get them accidents happen,” declared Councillor Germaine Smiley (Jamaica Labour Party, Port Maria Division).
“Even when we patch the roads, residents would call and say, 'Councillor, see if you can put a sleeping police across this road because of how motorists tend to use the roadway',” he told the meeting.
Councillor Sheldon Kidd (Jamaica Labour Party, Oracabessa Division), noted that a section of Lighthouse Road in his division was rehabilitated recently. During the official opening of the road he had appealed to motorists to reduce their speed.
“I beg of you all to ensure that the lives of the children are protected on this roadway,” he had said.
For those who continue to engage in reckless use of the roads, Superintendent Morgan-Simpson has made it clear that her team will be keeping an eye out for them, despite limited resources.
“We have been increasing our operational activities along the roadways and generally across the parish. The resources are a challenge, but we are utilising all resources that we have in the best way that we can,” she said.
She noted that one of the major challenges is that whenever the police are carrying out operations, motorists tend to tip off each other.
“Persons are signalling [other motorists] where the police are [located]. I also get my flash from time to time when I am travelling,” she said, referring to the common practice of motorists flashing their headlights to alert others to the presence of traffic police ahead.
According to the Ministry of Transport, speeding is the cause of most crashes on roads across Jamaica so far this year. Up to August 18, a total of 307 people had died on the island's roads, compared to 272 in the same period last year.
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