JOINT EF­FORT

Jamaica Gleaner - - MATIONAL RAOD SAFETY COUNCIL'S -

on our roads. How­ever, in 2015 they were re­placed by mo­tor­cy­cle driver fa­tal­i­ties for the first time. The sta­tis­tics show that of the 382 per­sons who lost their lives on our na­tion’s roads, 111 were driv­ing mo­tor­bikes. By com­par­i­son, there were 65 in­di­vid­u­als who lost their lives af­ter be­ing in­volved in mo­tor­bike crashes in 2014 and 56 in 2013. This rep­re­sents a 98.2 per cent in­crease over the pe­riod. This sin­gle fact is the main cause of the ex­tra­or­di­nary spike in fa­tal­i­ties for 2014 and 2015. The root of this phe­nom­e­non that has emerged, seen mainly in the west, is the in­creas­ing use of mo­tor­cy­cles for trans­porta­tion and for use as bike taxis. It is pur­ported that this is fu­elled by the in­crease in dis­pos­able in­come due to scam­ming.

This trend con­tin­ued into 2016 but is be­ing re­versed by work done by a Mo­tor­cy­cle Com­mit­tee es­tab­lished by the NRSC and chaired by the CEO of the Ja­maica Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion, us­ing data an­a­lysed by Mona GeoIn­for­mat­ics In­sti­tute from sta­tis­tics pro­vided by the Po­lice Traf­fic Head­quar­ters. Also, im­por­tant work is be­ing done in the field by the Road Safety Unit of the Min­istry of Trans­port and Min­ing. Mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast young Tarik Kid­doe and his team have also in­ter­vened in train­ing and sen­si­ti­sa­tion of mo­tor­cy­clists in their com­mu­ni­ties, funded by the In­surance As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­maica and San­dals. This team will con­tinue ac­tiv­i­ties in 2017 with NRSC sup­port from fund­ing al­lo­cated by the Na­tional Health Fund for our pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme.

Other hard-work­ing stake­hold­ers such as the Is­land Traf­fic Au­thor­ity go with the team to cer­tify the trained mo­tor­cy­clists right there in their com­mu­ni­ties in the west. This joint ef­fort has been very suc­cess­ful and is the model for part­ner­ship that has served road safety pro­mo­tion well over the years.

It must be noted that the above po­si­tion with fa­tal­i­ties is within the con­text of a wel­comed 25 per cent de­crease in pedes­trian fa­tal­i­ties, in­di­cat­ing that the fo­cus on low­er­ing fa­tal­i­ties in this group was suc­cess­ful. This gain how­ever, was nul­li­fied by the up­surge in mo­tor­cy­cle driver fa­tal­i­ties, and the over­all pos­i­tive ef­fect that it would other­wise have had on the fa­tal­ity rate was not re­alised. Too of­ten the fo­cus is on fa­tal­i­ties, in spite of the re­al­ity that many more per­sons are in­jured in road crashes than ac­tu­ally die, thereby com­pound­ing the se­ri­ous­ness of this prob­lem. In­juries from road crashes are a ma­jor pub­lic health con­cern. They are of­ten dis­abling and con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to the dis­ease bur­den — putting great de­mand and strain on the health ser­vices at all lev­els, and of­ten push­ing fam­i­lies be­low the poverty line when the bread win­ner is killed or in­jured.

Many crashes are caused by speed­ing, care­less over­tak­ing, fail­ure to keep left and a gen­eral dis­re­gard of traf­fic signs and sig­nals as well as the other rules of the road. Driv­ing fa­tigued, un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol and while dis­tracted by cell phone use and tex­ting are also the cause of crashes.

The NRSC ea­gerly an­tic­i­pates the im­mi­nent pass­ing of a new Road Traf­fic Act. This Act has sev­eral pro­vi­sions to aug­ment the tools avail­able to pro­mote safe use of our roads.

We must con­tinue work in this area to stop deaths from crashes over­tak­ing HIV/AIDS as the num­ber one cause of pre­ventable and pre­ma­ture death.

We look for­ward, also, to dis­cus­sions ad­vanc­ing to im­ple­men­ta­tion of the use of elec­tronic sur­veil­lance to curb driv­ers who ex­ceed the speed limit, break the red light. Work on the re­view of the Spirit Li­cence Act to pre­vent un­der-age drink­ing of driv­ers who could then go be­hind the steer­ing wheel, with dis­as­trous con­se­quences, is also ad­vanc­ing. The ad­min­is­tra­tive oper­a­tion of the Act for the grant­ing of spirit li­cences is also be­ing re­viewed to make it more ef­fi­cient.

The theme for World Re­mem­brance Day for Road Crash Vic­tims 2016 is: ‘From Global Re­mem­brance to Global Ac­tion Across the Decade Vi­tal Post-crash Ac­tions: Med­i­cal Care, In­ves­ti­ga­tion, Jus­tice!’ The fifth Post Crash Pil­lar — Global Plan for the Decade of Ac­tion for Road Safety 2011-2020 sup­ports this theme as does the Safe Sys­tems Ap­proach re­cently adopted by the NRSC. The think­ing be­hind this ap­proach is that the hu­man body, though won­der­fully made, is not meant to ab­sorb the level of ki­netic (mov­ing) en­ergy in­volved in a road crash. Also, hu­mans are not in­fal­li­ble, and mis­takes that we make should not re­sult in death or the sus­tain­ing of se­ri­ous in­juries when we err. We must con­tinue to act to re­duce the spike in fa­tal­i­ties de­stroy­ing our peo­ple and im­pact­ing our abil­ity to de­velop as a na­tion. This is why road safety pro­mo­tion is as im­por­tant as any IMF pro­gramme, as the two-three per cent growth tar­geted by our IMF pro­gramme is wiped out by the costs in­curred as a re­sult of road crashes. Road safety is ev­ery­one’s busi­ness.

Let us do all we can to make road safety a way of life to re­duce the weep­ing, grief and pain. DR LU­CIEN JONES Vice Chair­man/Con­venor Na­tional Road Safety Coun­cil

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