Be safe road users
WORLD DAY of Remembrance For Road Traffic Victims was first instituted in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly and in the following year, Jamaica adopted the commemoration of this initiative. It is a time when we remember and celebrate the lives of our loved ones lost; we remember those who are injured and the caregivers who work tirelessly to ensure their well-being.
The global magnitude of road fatalities, which results in the loss of over 3,000 lives and the serious injury of over 100,000 persons per day, is alarming. It is of great concern that every three minutes a child dies on the world’s roads. Some of those dying in crashes are our very own family members, friends, neighbours and co-workers.
REMEMBRANCE TO ACTION
As chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), I am committed to leading Jamaica in playing its part to achieve the goals of the Andrew Holness
Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, which is to ensure a 50 per cent reduction in projected roads fatalities. The theme for this year, ‘From Global Remembrance to Global Action Across the Decade – Vital Post-crash Actions: Medical Care, Investigation, Justice!’, directly supports a strong area of interest for me of having a functioning and efficient emergency response system in our country. It also relates directly to the Safe Systems Approach recently adopted by the NRSC that embraces the position that human beings make errors in judgement and will unfortunately break the rules of the road. While not condoning such behaviour, effort should be made to not make the cost be loss of life or sustaining serious injury. We must therefore, as a nation, strive to improve and upgrade the components of the multidimensional and multisectoral approach required to provide safer roads, safer vehicles and encourage persons to be responsible road users. Pedestrians must exercise caution when they travel on our roads. Very young children should not be on the roads without someone old enough to ensure their safety. The modern-day necessity – the cell phone – is also a real and present danger to road safety when used by drivers and pedestrians alike. There is no message or call that cannot wait or is worth getting killed or seriously injured. Laws are coming to restrict the use of cell phone while driving, but we need not wait on this to ensure our safety. Fatality figures have
been experiencing an upward trend since 2012, a notable year, when we recorded the lowest fatality rate since the early 1990s.
It is heartening to note, however, that we are seeing a downward trend since the second quarter of this year. This can continue if all road users take personal responsibility for their safety and observe the rules of the road. If we do this, we could actually record fewer deaths on our roads for 2016 than for the previous year, as the comparative fatality rate is pretty close to date. This should be our aim. Life is sacred and should be protected at all times. Being a road user comes with responsibilities and risks, as it involves taking