Six Road Safety Infomercials were recently handed over to the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing by the Insurance Company of the West Indies (ICWI) on Tuesday, January 8, 2013.

The infomercials were developed by the ICWI with inputs from the Road Safety Unit and other stakeholders and are to be aired on television. This collaborative effort is intended to assist in the education thrust to enlighten road users how to operate in the traffic environment and to ultimately decrease the number of road fatalities associated with road crashes.

Speaking at the function, Transport, Works & Housing Minister Dr. the Hon Omar Davies thanked ICWI for their work in road safety over the years and in particular for the development of the six road safety infomercials. He noted that the infomercials would focus on:

·         Pedestrian Safety

·         Motorcycle Safety

·         Overtaking

·         Speeding

·         Tailgating and

·         Safe Driving on a whole

In highlighting the cost of road crashes to the state, Minister Davies said, “Last year, between medical care and insurance claims alone, traffic collisions cost the country well over $9B. Families spent close to $100M to bury relatives killed in motor vehicle crashes.” “ I am  therefore going to request that the Road Safety Unit (RSU) provide a comprehensive analysis of those fatal collisions and submit the report to my office as quickly as possible so that we can see exactly what happened in 2012 and use it as a basis for improvement in 2013,” he added.

The Minister outlined several initiatives that will be pursued to assist in the improvement of the road network which could ultimately lead to fewer road crashes. These are:

·         Replacement of guardrails, especially in the parishes of St. Mary, St. Thomas and Portland

·         Improvements for disabled road users – in this scenario, funding is now in place to install tactile surfacing for the visually impaired  and wheelchair users in the Papine area

·         Changes at signalized intersections. Effective January 2013, the MTHW will grant pedestrians using Half Way Tree at the intersections of Hope, Constant Spring and Suthermere Roads. Pedestrians will now have enough time to cross the roads

·         Proper use of pedestrian crossings – this year over 150km of the road network will be marked and by February 2013 all signalized intersections will be clearly identified.

·         Strengthened road safety processes in critical areas – Effective July 2013, all new road projects will be subjected to Road Safety Audits from the design to the completion stage. Also, the University of North Florida’s Institute of Police Technology and Management has been engaged to assist in providing specialized training under the Road Improvement Programme. With respect to Driving Schools, they  as well as instructors will now have to be certified by the Island Traffic Authority and adhere to an approved curriculum. As far as the Road Traffic Act is concerned, it is now being overhauled with a view to addressing things such as tyre safety, the use of cell phones and DVD Players while driving.

For his part, President of ICWI, Mr Paul Lalor said that the infomercials were designed specifically to ensure that Jamaicans are provided with contemporary road safety information, which would enable them to make correct decisions in the traffic environment.

He noted that ICWI sees its alliance with the Ministry as part of its corporate social responsibility and is focused on assisting the Government in achieving its goal of ‘Below 200’ by 2017.

“One life lost on the road is one life too many. As a business, we hope that by bringing down the frequency of accidents, the insurance industry can create greater surpluses which can allow us to continue to make insurance affordable to more Jamaicans,” Mr. Lalor said. Continuing, he stressed, “too many lives are being lost to reckless driving and speeding; these are areas that must be addressed.”