Hundreds of patrons turned out on Saturday October 12, 2013 to support the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing’s Road Safety Road Tour. The Tour made stops in Mandeville, Junction and Santa Cruz, with patrons anxious and eager to share their knowledge of road safety, win prizes and absorb the information from the various stakeholders. With the ‘Vibes Master’ Jerry D leading the proceedings, the show got off to an absorbing start at the Bronx Taxi Park in the Manchester Capital. The excitement level gradually grew as the vibes master interacted with the patrons, with the road safety jingles and songs anchoring the proceedings.
As at October 12, 2013, over 230 persons have been killed in motor vehicle crashes, a 19% increase when compared to same period last year. Pedestrians account for approximately 30% of this total and the message to the patrons was skewed towards pedestrian and public passenger vehicle passenger safety. Representatives from the Transport Authority, National Road Safety Council, Jamaica Constabulary Force, Road Safety Unit and Insurance Association of Jamaica ensured that patrons were fully aware of the magnitude of the situation as it relates to their safety.
The team then headed for Junction, St. Elizabeth, buoyed by the turnout and reception in Mandeville. However, as soon as the team pulled up to the Junction Square, the sight of the JUTC bus, coupled with the infectious road safety jingles drew curious onlookers, and the police had to cordon off the area to maintain crowd control. The Vibes Master again took to the stage and persons were seen scurrying towards the centre of the excitement, coming out of businesses, standing on the plazas, persons got out of taxis and gathered to drink in the information and quench their road safety thirst, despite the scorching heat. The venue was then transformed into a party atmosphere, with persons singing and dancing to the ‘no text-no drive’ dance. The trivia segment was also highly competitive as patrons rushed and competed vigorously to answer questions and win prizes.
Local sensation, Noddy Virtue could do no wrong and crooned his way to the hearts of the patrons, passionately pleading for persons to be safe on the roads and to ‘walk, ride and drive for life.’ Versatile gospel artiste Omari also beseeched persons to wear their seatbelts, not to drink and drive and to walk carefully on the roads, while delivering a ‘spirited’ performance. Volunteers from the Mico University College caught the fever and also joined the representative from the Road Safety Unit in demonstrating the ‘road safety dance.’ By the time the team pulled out of Junction to head for Santa Cruz, anticipation and excitement were fever-pitched. Santa Cruz was ready and waiting as the crowd had gathered long before the team arrived. Scores of persons were already on location, waiting patiently to be ‘edu-tained.’
By the time the show got underway, the buzz-word on everyone’s lips was safety. Patrons danced, sang, answered questions and were well in-tune to the message on offer. Noddy Virtue again took to the stage to screams and howls from patrons. By the time he uttered ‘A road safety mi ting deh’, the screams got even louder. He, again, pleaded with the audience to be safe on the road, not to text and drive/walk and to be a safe pedestrian by being alert at all times.
The dynamic duo, Voicemail, demonstrated their versatility as they sang and danced in the name of road safety. They alternated during their performance to lament the carnage and mayhem taking place on the roads. They reminded the patrons that they too are road users and are victims of careless and reckless driving as well. They reminded the audience that the tragedy that took place recently with the 4 Holmwood Technical High School students could have been avoided and that it could have happened to anyone as those things normally happen to innocent persons. The duo also took the time to remind persons that the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing was doing a good thing in taking the message directly to the audience, and that persons should make a commitment to always ‘walk, ride and drive for life.’