Transport expert urges 'Safe System Approach' to reduce road fatalities
SMITH...the Safe System Approach focuses on the health and safety of our drivers which will ultimately result in less fatalities

OWEN Smith, general manager of the Jamaica Automobile Association, wants Jamaicans to adopt the 'Safe Systems Approach' to reduce the level of human errors that contribute to road crashes.

The approach, which is used in several developed countries, including the United States, among other things, accounts for the role human behaviour plays in road safety.

It aims to eliminate fatal and serious injuries for all road users by taking a holistic view of the road system that first, anticipates human mistakes; and second, seeks to reduce the probability of injury to the motor vehicle operator and passengers.

It comprises five elements: safer people, safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and post-crash care.

"I encourage Jamaicans to adopt the Safe System Approach because of its focus on the health and safety of our drivers which will ultimately result in less fatalities. When a driver is healthy, he or she is less likely to make errors. This is why the aspect that emphasises safer people is important," said Smith.

"Countries that adopted the approach in the 1990s showed large reductions in road deaths between that period and 2017. For example, over a 27-year period, Australia had a 47 per cent drop in road fatalities. New Zealand had 48 per cent reduction; Spain saw an 80 per cent decline; while there was a 67 per cent reduction in Sweden," added Smith.

He said the Safe System Approach is important, particularly because humans are not infallible.

"Every user of the road has a part to play in reducing road crashes. People will inevitably make mistakes and are vulnerable to errors. Some groups are more vulnerable than others. For example, transport operators, by virtue of what they do are more at risk, which is why there is need for them to be aware of the Safe System Approach," said Smith.

The transport and mobility professional, who was speaking to transport operators at a recent Health, Wealth and Safety Expo organised by the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services, said transport operators also need to take their health seriously to reduce the possibility of a crash.

"The health of our drivers falls under the safer people [aspect of the approach] because human error many times play a crucial role in road fatalities. In fact, it has been proven that driving while tired is as similar as driving under the influence. Therefore, a rested driver, who is healthy otherwise, is unlikely to make a mistake on our roads," stated Smith.

"For this reason, we encourage our transport operators to adopt a healthy lifestyle while incorporating the safe system approach in their daily lives. I believe that this will benefit our drivers and ultimately the country because it will result in less fatalities and less burden on our health services," added Smith.

The latest figures from the Road Safety Unit of the Ministry of Transport show that up to Monday the island recorded 159 road fatalities from 146 fatal collisions.

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