Approximately sixty-three persons spanning a number of entities benefitted from several road safety courses that were conducted at the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI). Persons drawn from various entities including the Ministries of Transport, Works & Housing, Health, National Security, the National Works Agency, the Island Traffic Authority, the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the National Road Safety Council pledged to go back to their organisations with the knowledge they gained with a view to effecting behaviour change in road safety habits.
Among the course administered were Crash Investigation; Accident Analysis and Reconstruction; Defensive Driving as well as Driver Behaviour and Risk Index skills. The courses were held under the aegis of the Road Improvement Programme in association with the Institute of Police Technology and Management at the University of North Florida.
Speaking at the ceremony, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing, Mrs. Audrey Sewell said that anyone who was acquainted with the Jamaican traffic environment could attest to the fact that the skills sets acquired by the participants in the courses would help to address the various ills that threaten to derail various road safety efforts. Continuing, she said, The business of road safety and its attendant issues affect every single Jamaican in some way shape or form and so demand a multi-sectoral approach. She hailed the approach as a ‘true demonstration of joined-up government at work and bodes well for the continued attack on things such as accidents, poor road etiquette, jaywalking, poor driving habits among many others.’ “The recipients of this training will certainly increase our capacity to haver Jamaica being among countries which subscribe to standards consistent with 21st century road safety tenets,” she added.
In speaking to the global nature of road safety, the Permanent Secretary said that the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 provides for an overall framework for activities which may take place in the context of the decade. She noted that the pillars of activities in the Decade of Action are ‘building road safety management capacity; improving the safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks; further developing the safety of vehicles; enhancing the behaviour of road users and the improvement of post cash care. With the focus on preparing Jamaica for the 21st century in road safety development, the five pillars were intertwined in the courses over the past three years with the assistance of the Road Improvement Programme.
Also speaking at the ceremony was SSP Calvin Allen, Head of the Police Traffic Headquarters who said the Police was pleased for the level of training offered on the course. He said that he was encouraged by the partnerships among the police and various stakeholders, especially the Road Safety Unit as they mounted an assault on road traffic crashes. He noted that he wants to herald the road safety message by heralding the ‘drive for life’ concept far and wide.
In addressing the audience of the impact of road crashes on the population, keynote speaker Deputy Commissioner James Golding who represented Commissioner Carl Williams said that it robbed the nation of its most productive citizens, those in the 15-29 age group. He noted that males for instance had three times more fatalities than females. In highlighting some of the root causes for road crashes on the roads, the Deputy Commissioner said that part of this was due to the disrespect displayed by users of the roads to each other. He lauded the trainees for having successfully completed the various courses, encouraging them to use the newly acquired knowledge to make a positive difference in the road safety efforts. He encouraged all to participate in all road safety initiatives as he said, “Road safety does not happen by accident”.