In light of a 1.7% increase in traffic collisions since the start of the year, when compared to a similar period last year, the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Works is taking a proactive stance on public education, especially over the ‘emancipendence’ weekend. With the western end of the island set to come abuzz with partying and entertainment events, the RSU is taking the message of “Designate a Driver…Designate a Drive” directly to patrons at this year’s staging of ATI in Negril..

This year’s efforts have seen the Road Safety Unit collaborating with stakeholders-National Road Safety Council, Total Jamaica Limited and Absolute Entertainment Ltd. - to stage a display booth at several party venues in order to promote the anti-drunk driving message of Designate a Driver…Designate a Drive. Education and Information Officer at the Road Safety Unit, Da’Reon Sevanell, is anticipating an effective initiative and a fatality-free ATI weekend this year, while expressing confidence that the messages will be received by patrons.

“There is unmistakeably a need for a change of culture in the Jamaican society as it relates to drinking and driving. Drunk Drivers believe that it ok to not only drive themselves but to transport passengers as well. Passengers do not hesitate to travel with drivers who have imbibed alcohol.”

Mr. Sevanell continued that in order to reach both the passenger and driver, the Don’t Drink and Drive message must be carefully constructed and consistently promoted.

“Research shows that Jamaican drinkers are resistant to messages which challenge their ability to hold their liquor and which seek to adjust their drinking behaviour. The message Designate a Driver…Designate a Drive was constructed with that Jamaican drinking culture in mind. We are simply encouraging party-goers to negotiate their safe return home from even before they leave home.”

"For their part, the National Road Safety Council has fully endorsed the initiative, and Executive Director, Paula Fletcher, believes that there are still creative and ingenious ways to deliver the road safety messages in a non-threatening but effective manner.

“We believe that this campaign will contribute greatly in promoting responsible behaviour among the party goers over this weekend. We are very much concerned about the spate of road fatalities and the fact that we have so far surpassed last year’s corresponding figures. The National Road Safety Council is taking a proactive approach to take the messages directly to patrons, and we believe that ATI is an opportunity to interact with the very persons who are consuming alcohol and encouraging them to negotiate their safe return home. The message is simple and clear. Designate a driver and a drive before you even head out to the parties. That way you can ensure that you will get back home safely.”

This year marks the second year that the Road Safety Unit is having a presence at ATI, following last year’s inaugural year, which saw patrons gravitating towards and endorsing the messages and tips being provided by the Unit.