Editorial

Slow down

Friday, May 12, 2017

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We welcome Prime Minister Andrew Holness's announcement that the Government will be looking at the implementation of traffic management technology as part of its effort to improve safety under the amended Road Traffic Act.This newspaper believes that the use of technology, with the appropriate and efficient support systems, can put a serious dent in the nagging problem of road deaths in this country.

Implementing this system and the revised Act cannot happen too soon, as just yesterday the Road Safety Unit reported that 120 people have been killed in road crashes since the start of this year.

According to the unit, 33 of the victims were pedestrians, six were pedal cyclists, 34 were motorcyclists, six pillion passengers, 12 private motor vehicle passengers, three drivers of commercial vehicles, one passenger of a commercial motor vehicle, and 25 were drivers of private motor vehicles.

The unit highlighted those figures as it renewed its call for motorists to desist from speeding on the roads, keep left while driving, avoid overtaking around corners, and to drive within the designated speed limits.

In addition, the unit reiterated its call for drivers and passengers in motor vehicles to wear seat belts, and urged the use of helmets by motorcyclists and pillion passengers. The unit also reminded pedestrians to use pedestrian crossings, walk facing the oncoming traffic, and always wear bright and light-coloured clothing when it is dark.

Those safety tips were reiterated by the prime minister on Wednesday at a function marking the fourth United Nations Global Road Safety Week now being observed.

That function was held to help promote the ongoing global #SlowDown campaign which seeks to increase understanding of the dangers of speed and generate action to address the problem.

The campaign's administrators have also set a target of 50 per cent reduction in global road traffic deaths and injuries by 2020. Success in that endeavour would make a major difference, given that global road traffic deaths number about 1.25 million, according to the World Health Organization.

When one considers the economic, social and emotional burdens that traffic fatalities place on countries and families, any effort to reduce the numbers is worthy of public support.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Holness said his Government was serious about taking the fastest route to action on this issue, even as he pointed out that Jamaica was experiencing some reduction in traffic deaths.

His acknowledgement that with the improvement in road infrastructure the Government has a duty to, “from the outset, design our roads with safety in mind” is most welcome.

However, as Mr Holness pointed out, Jamaicans have a duty to themselves to be careful and observe the rules governing road use. For, regardless of the safety measures and enforcement in place, the Government does not have absolute control over people and their behaviour.

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