Prime Minister Holness who is Chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) made the call prior to the holidays, pointing out that the authorities have pinpointed speeding and pedestrian error as the key contributors to road traffic fatalities.
Dr. Lucien Jones, Convenor and Vice Chairman of the NRSC expressed condolences to the victims’ families, but noted that such tragedies are preventable with greater care on the nation’s roads. “The Easter break is a significant holiday in Jamaica, but unfortunately, based on our records, this long holiday has been ending in far too many injuries and deaths,” Jones noted.
The Easter weekend deaths have increased the total road fatalities to 103, from 96 fatal crashes since the start of the year. This represents a 22 per cent decline in the fatality rate compared to the corresponding period last year when 132 fatalities were recorded from 112 crashes. This year’s figures included 31 motor cyclists, 28 pedestrians, 21 private motor car drivers, eight private motor car passengers, six pedal cyclists, five pillion passengers, three commercial motor carrier drivers and one commercial motor carrier passenger. Two fatalities were recorded for Holy Thursday, three on Good Friday, four on Easter Sunday and one on Easter Monday.
“My heart goes out to those who have lost their loved ones in these crashes,” said Paula Fletcher, Executive Director, NRSC. “While the statistics from the Police Traffic Division point to a worrying and dangerous trend over the Easter holidays, we all have the ability to make a positive change based on our daily choices, including taking responsibility for our safety, and the safety of the most vulnerable on the road – especially the children and the elderly. We are however thankful for the overall improvement in the statistics year to date, and hope this will continue.” Fletcher reasoned.
Fletcher advised road users to be mindful of the crashes and incidents that occur on the nation’s roads. “I’m urging motorists to cut their speed, use safety devices (seatbelt, car seats for infants, motor cycle helmet) observe the rules of the road, and be vigilant. Pedestrians have a responsibility to use pedestrian crossings where available, cross the road where and when it is safe to do so, and exercise caution every day as they are a vulnerable group. Motorcyclists are also among that vulnerable group and although we have seen an overall 24.3 per cent reduction in deaths among this group since this year, it is with great sadness that we note the tragic death of another motorcyclist, Germaine Mason, Olympic medallist,” Fletcher said. “The NRSC again reminds motorcyclists and pillion riders to always wear a helmet, as it is required by law for their own protection, and also to wear protective clothing.”