The 5th staging of the Jamaica Driver & Traffic Safety Expo as well as the 2nd Road Safety 5K was launched at the Offices of the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.

The Expo which is said to be the largest of its kind in the Caribbean, focuses on the impact of road safety in effecting social and economic change in such areas as wellness and monetary ease to the health and public works sectors. The one day Expo is scheduled for June 16, 2013 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre and will provide practical, behind the wheel, hands-on experience for driving emergencies as well as defensive driving techniques.

The 5K will take place on Saturday, June 1, 2013 and will serve as an opening event for Road Safety month activities (June is Road Safety Month). THE focus of the Road Safety 5K is to place the spotlight on the devastation and trauma caused by motor vehicle crashes on the lives of individuals, families, communities  and the  country at large. This is in the context of achieving a healthy lifestyle by encouraging persons to exercise and keep fit. Proceeds from the 5K will go to the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the Percy Junor Hospital.

In delivering the keynote address at the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Morais Guy, Minister without portfolio (Housing) expressed appreciation for the work that was being done by Grennell’s Driving School and the other stakeholders in the cause of road safety. He said, “The meaningless loss of lives due to the negligence on the part of some of our drivers, speaks volumes to the significance of events such as these in soliciting the public’s support for this cause; and at the same time sensitizing road users on the need to employ safe road user practices.”

In speaking to the impact of road crashes on the health system, the Minister said, “In 2011, 4,749 persons were seen in accident and emergency at 8 government hospitals due to motor vehicle crashes in Jamaica. The main mode of travel for victims of motor vehicle crashes was by (41.5%) followed by motorbike and pedestrian (13.4%) These statistics are alarming and significantly bring our attention to the urgency in promoting road safety on our roads.”

Against this background, he noted that the Ministry is engaged in several initiatives geared at stemming the tide of road crashes. These he listed as engaging in more road repairs; a comprehensive revision of the Road Safety Act; the construction of infrastructure to accommodate disabled persons as well as the establishment of a Land Transport Authority.

For his part, patron for the event, Mr. Milton Samuda bemoaned the fact that the nation faces a real challenge this year in terms of road fatalities. He explained that, ‘We had barely started celebrating the reduction in road fatalities to 260 in 2012 down from 319 and 308 in 2010 and 2011 respectively, when we noticed a troubling rise in year on year fatalities for 2013 over 2012’. 

In pointing to solutions Mr. Samuda explained that discipline and order were essential to an environment conducive to investment and economic growth. In the same breath he says, “I believe that our behavior on our roadways is symptomatic of the breakdown of discipline and order. If we make our roadways, areas of order, courtesy, discipline and an adherence to rules, we not only contribute to the campaign to reduce road crashes and fatalities, but we also contribute to the overarching goal of creating an environment conducive to the investment and economic growth we so desperately require if we are to produce and earn our way out of our present.”

Also speaking at the function was Mr. Alphanso Grennell, Chairman of the Expo and 5K. He recounted the very early beginnings of the Expo and thanked all for their support leading to where they had reached. “We have persevered amidst many challenges and even opposition from unexpected sources. We look forward to the 5th staging of this event with excitement and a sense of accomplishment,” he added.

Also participating in the programme were: Mr. Dervan Malcolm who chaired the proceedings; Evangelist Paul Edwards who prayed; Mr. Floyd McLean, Actng. Commissioner of the Fire Brigade; Mr. DEavid Summerbell Jnr, Champion Race Car Driver; and the students from the Mona Heights Primary School who performed a cultural item.