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ROAD RULES

SSP Allen gives advice to parents

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 01, 2017

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WITH new school year merely days away, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Calvin Allen, head of Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) Traffic Division, has an assignment for parents with young charges heading out: Speak with them about road safety!

SSP Allen was speaking with Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine earlier this week.

“I'm advising parents with students who are going out for the first time to take the journey with them. Do it for the first couple of days or so in order for them to used to the roads; getting them used to navigating the streets, getting them used to taking the public transportation before deciding to leave them on their own,” he said.

“Come next week, we're ensuring officers of all sorts are out there... We will be on our roadways, in our town centres, as well as in the afternoon time when we know school dismisses... We know that even this weekend will be a busy one as parents do their last-minute back-to-school shopping. We are taking no chances. We are ensuring our officers are deployed to all our various town centres,” he continued.

SSP Allen said crossing major thoroughfares can be is intimidating for many adults. Therefore, discussions should be held in the households to reinforce the correct way to do so.

“Let's remind our children of the basics... Look right, look left, and look right again to ensure it's safe before you attempt to cross. Try using the pedestrian crossing if it is there. Discourage them from playing on the roadway as it is a very serious area. Playing on busy roads is a dangerous practice and one can easily get carried away without recognising the dangers that exist. This, in a lot of instances, leads to lot of accidents with children running careless into traffic. So we want parents to make their children aware of the dangers of our busy roadways.”

Since January 1, 2017, 14 children have lost their lives on the island's roadways. The total is six fewer than the previous year.

“We don't want to lose not even one more,” he said.

While cellphones are vital means of communication, SSP Allen said it can prove dangerous to both pedestrians and motorists.

“Some children, especially the older ones, carry cellphones. Not only does the use of cellphone affect the concentration of drivers, it also reduces pedestrian awareness of activities going on around them. Children should therefore avoid using cellphones, especially when crossing the roadways,” he said.

“We want to say to parents as a matter of safety, the more expensive the cellphone you give to your child, the more attractive that child becomes to hoodlums. So we're saying to you, for the purpose of basic communication, think basic. The need for communication is paramount, but it doesn't have to become that type of an instrument that the person becomes vulnerable to those with ill intention. We want our parents to become mindful of that,” he continued.

The top cop said children should use the side walks or pavement where available and avoid taking “strange” vehicles.

“Try avoiding strange people and vehicles when walking on the streets. If you feel like you're being followed, go to a well populated area, or find a police officer and inform him or her as to that situation. Don't drift away and go to lonely area as you attempt to go to school or attempt to come from school. When school dismisses, make every effort to reach home safely. Avoid loitering; we have too many instances of children going missing because of careless practices. We want persons to pay attention to that... The Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre, for example, is an area where lot of persons tend to congregate. We want for children and parents to know that while we will be deploying officers in various forms to treat with the issue of citizen security and public safety, we want for them to play their part, and inform their children not to become idle in the transport centre. School is over, get onto your bus, and go home. We've had a lot of situations where, if children had taken heed and head on home, they would not have become involved in fights and situations where persons have become wounded or otherwise.”

Public passenger operators were not to be left out. SSP Allen is warning them to comply with their road licences and the speed limit.

“We have seen situations where some public passenger operators have taken on far more passengers than your license stipulate. We're sending a clear warning to avoid doing that. We don't want children to be late for school because we have to take some lawful action to ensure safety. Remember your vehicle is designed to carry a certain amount of passengers and laden weight.”

“And to our motorists, the whole line of sight of children is different from that of an adult; they are small. And so, with school reopening, we want our motorists to be far more careful as they use the corridor, but especially if you operate in a school zone, that you do all that it possible in assisting to protect our children,” SSP Allen added.

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