Fatalities climb to 76

Fatalities climb to 76

Observer writer

Friday, February 28, 2020

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A pall of gloom hangs over the George Alleyne Hall at the University of The West Indies's Mona campus in Kingston, following the death of three residents in a motor vehicle collision yesterday morning.

The victims are identified as 20-year-old Devaughn Cunningham, 22-year-old Romario Nedrick, and 23-year-old Lamaro Cole. They were students at the University of Technology (UTech).

“I've known him since last September and though it seems like such a short period of time, I was absolutely devastated when I found out. I started crying immediately. He used to print (schoolwork) with me really often, and outside of that, we'd pass each other and have little conversations. All I can think about are his (Devaughn's) parents. How do you feel knowing that the child you nurtured and has so much to live for just ceased to exist in the blink of an eye?” Kaylia Sturridge, law student, told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

A grief-counselling session, provided by the UTech Counselling Unit, was planned for last night.

According to the official report from the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), about 2:00 am, the men were travelling in a black Toyota Premio motor car heading towards downtown Kingston. The driver lost control of the vehicle and collided into the gate of the Carib Cement Packaging Plant. They were pronounced dead at hospital.

“Romario was very active in sports, from [St James Prep] prep school and even up here…like he was always playing football,” said Shalonda Gordon, operations management student, who said she had known the victim for eight years.

Yesterday's incident brings the number of road fatalities since the start of 2020 to 76. Of those 76, 61 are males.

Last year, 435 people were killed on the island's roadway.

Meanwhile, Vice-Chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Dr Lucien Jones, said the entity's single-handed efforts to curtail road fatalities are proving futile. As a consequence, it will be partnering with other organisations to tackle the issue.

“Encouraging road safety is one the United Nations sustainable development goals. That means, it's in the same bracket as reducing poverty, matters related to climate change, child safety, and so on. Rather than trying to reduce the number of accidents and road fatalities by ourselves, we are planning to partner with agencies that deal with health, environment, and any other entity that falls into the sustainable development goal bracket to try and lower the number (of road fatalities). We recognise that trying to do it by ourselves does not work well, so we'll be speaking with the foreign minister as well as the prime minister about this strategy,” he told Auto.

Dr Jones added that NRSC's newest action plan that was approved by the prime minister last March, and has been in effect since the latter part of the year, will still continue.

“When we started in 1993, the number of road fatalities was at 444, until it dropped significantly in 2012 to 260. We implemented certain policies such as discouraging driving under the influence of alcohol and car seats for children, however the single biggest cause of road fatalities is motorcyclists. With the introduction of the action plan, we have been giving driving lessons because we realise that many drivers on the road cannot drive. The FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Foundation out of London has issued 1,000 free helmets that meet the standards of the UN and World Health Organization and we have been encouraging motorcyclists to wear proper gear,” he said.

The FIA is the governing body of motor sport and promotes safe, sustainable, and accessible mobility for all road users across the world.

Drivers in Westmoreland have benefited from a one-day workshop held at the Hanover Youth Innovation Centre last September and saw a large number of bikers going through several topics, including risk awareness, risk management, understanding safety gear, and understanding motorcycling techniques.

Over the years, the NRSC has sought to use popular sports personalities as well as entertainers to spread its message of road safety.

In 2013, NSRC pulled on the star power of two-time Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to get their message across.

That advert saw the sprint queen disguised as a school warden and assisting some children to cross a pedestrian crossing. On reaching the other side, she reveals herself then quizzes them on road safety.

Established in 1993 and chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the NRSC is a non-profit organisation with a mandate to develop and implement road safety promotional activities and conduct public education programmes.

The council launched its 'Below 300' campaign in 2008 aimed at reducing road fatalities below that figure. This was achieved in 2012 when 260 fatalities were recorded.

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