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Transport minister urges caution on the roads

Saturday, December 16, 2017

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MINISTER of Transport and Mining Mike Henry is imploring Jamaicans to be extremely cautious and responsible on the nation's roads during the festive season.

His warning comes against the fact that 303 individuals have lost their lives in road crashes since the start of 2017.

“I want to appeal to every one of us to behave ourselves in the traffic environment. The speeds recorded in the black boxes that are involved (in road crashes) are frightening,” he said.

He noted that pedestrians “are being hit [by motorists travelling at speeds of] between 38 kilometres per hour, and 100 kilometres per hour and they are never able to survive such impacts.

“Too many of our people have been injured or killed because of excessive speed; therefore, as we look forward to this Christmas period, I appeal to every Jamaican to walk, ride and drive for the family and for other persons,” he added.

Minister Henry was speaking at the Child Health Initiative and the National Road Safety Council's (NRSC) Policy Forum at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday.

Minister Henry noted that while strides have been made in improving road safety, particularly among pedestrians who are children, there are more negative behaviours to be arrested.

“We are below the numbers of [road deaths] for the year before, [but] persons are dying needlessly, leaving behind their precious children to grow up without a mother or a father, but more predominantly, without a father, since male casualties account for over 85 per cent of the fatalities. This leaves a negative impact on the social economic stability of the family structure,” he pointed out.

He expressed particular concern about the behaviour of motorcyclists. “Already, 88 of them have been killed so far this year. I am calling on them to cut out the dangerous practices on the roads,” he urged.

Minister Henry also called on people who have outstanding traffic tickets to take advantage of the second traffic ticket amnesty now under way, which ends on January 13, 2018.

The Child Health Initiative and NRSC Policy Forum involved partnership with the FIA Foundation — an independent charity known for global philanthropy focused on road safety and sustainable mobility.

The event, which involved stakeholders from various government entities and the private sector, had the objective of, among other things, examining the Road Safety Act and facilitating discussions towards creating a policy to provide greater protection for children on the roads.

Vice chairman, NRSC, Dr Lucien Jones, urged motorists to look out for children on the roads.

“Road crashes are the global number-one killer of school-age children, especially older children. Here in Jamaica, we will be stepping up our efforts and practical steps to protect our children as they take the journey, often a challenging one, from home to school and back,” he said.

FIA Foundation Deputy Director Avi Silverman noted that, around the world, children are among the most vulnerable on the roads.

“We must do all we can to protect them. Jamaica has the potential to make huge progress and to become a global leader in this effort. We're delighted to be able to support our partners in Jamaica in this fight to save lives. Every life we save is precious, and every child deserves a safe journey to school. We must not fail our children,” he added.

— JIS

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