THE fourth annual Jamaica Driver & Traffic Safety Expo — held at the Ranny Williams Entertainment in St Andrew last Saturday -- was a success, according to expo chairman Alphonso Grennell.
"The point of this is to educate people," said Grennell, "because they still don't believe the devastation that road accidents cause to all involved, but the message is getting out given the increase in support the expo has received from the public and corporate sponsors."
The 10:00 am start saw a host of stakeholders in the reduction of fatalities on local roads take to the microphone to address the public on hand. However, it was keynote speaker Dr Dayanand Sawh who garnered the most attention. As a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, his presentation addressed all the angles of traffic accidents, from the reasons for their genesis to the consequences, with a gritty realism and touch of humour.
"It's the living we have to deal with," Dr Sawh said at one point during his speech. "The ultimate burden of a road accident is dealt with by the survivors and the medical staff after the fact."
As well as the medical effort put out to keep survivors alive or rehabilitate the more seriously injured, Dr Sawh highlighted the outright costs in terms of medical supplies.
"We are looking at around half-a-billion dollars a year as the large percentage of medical supplies are imported from overseas. That's a lot of foreign exchange."
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce president, Milton Samuda, further expanded on this issue when he spoke to Auto later in the day.
"It's one of my major pet peeves when it comes to the topic of road accidents. They cause a huge diversion of resources from the public purse because there is usually some sort of property damage. When a car knocks down a sign or a light pole, that replacement cost has to come from somewhere and it generally finds its way back to the taxpayer."
Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), was heartened by the 30 per cent drop in road accidents over the same period last year, and promised that the new road safety act, as tabled by the NRSC, should be in place by the end of the year.
"The scans of road accidents run deep," she said, "and the new act will deal with road accidents with several major enhancements for road safety."