The Third UN Global Road Safety Week was officially launched on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at a ceremony at theATL Automotive’s state-of the art Volkswagen Terminal on Oxford Road, St. Andrew.
The week which runs from May 4-10 is being celebrated under the theme #SaveKidsLives.
Speaking at the ceremony, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller noted that the matter of road safety and in particular as it related to children, was of great concern to her. She highlighted the fact that this remained a top priority for her.
“The mission to save children is a national one and so it is very fitting that the week is being celebrated under this theme,” she asserted.
Continuing, the Prime Minister said, “Road crashes negatively impacts economic growth- it is counterproductive and wipes out growth potential.” She pointed to the overhaul of the Road Traffic Bill and the use of technology as ways in which the government intends to help combat the scourge of road crashes. She also used the opportunity to speak to the need for persons to be more aware and helpful to persons with disabilities who traverse the nation’s roads.
Adam Stewart, the CEO of Sandals Resorts International/ATL Group, one of the major partners in the launch and the week of activities said road safety was very dear to him as he lost a brother in a road crash. He noted that as one of Jamaica’s larger corporate citizens, he felt he had the requisite connections which could help spread the road safety message. He used the opportunity to outline his Company’s involvement in the week of activities which included getting endorsements from artistes, motor car drivers, beauty queens and characters from Sesame Street who would be visiting schools around the island to assist in the cause. He called on other corporate entities to become involved in the road safety fight.
And Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works & Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy revealed that motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death among persons in the 15-29 age group. Outlining the statistics he said, “a breakdown of the 124 road deaths recorded so far this year shows that 30% were motor cyclists, 27 % pedestrians, 5% pedal cyclists and 2% pillion passengers.”
He noted that that meant that one in every four persons killed was a pedestrian or that one in every two persons killed on the road was either a pedestrian or a motorcyclist. It is for that reason he said that the Road Safety Unit within the Ministry was engaged in actively conducting public education seminars within schools, especially in western parishes where a large number of the crashes were concentrated.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake who also spoke, said that they were actively collaborating with other stakeholders such as the Road Safety Unit, the National Road Safety Council in spreading the message of the proper use of the roads. He said they would be employing the use of technology in aiding this particular thrust.
The Prime Minister, Minister Guy, Adam Stewart along with many of the other stakeholders present signed the UN Child Declaration for Road Safety which was later presented to Mrs Simpson Miller by 12 year old Najeebe Bayley, a student of the Mona Heights Primary School.
The event also saw presentations from Mr. Kenute Hare, Director of the Road Safety Unit; Dr. Lucien Jones, Vice Chair of the National Road Safety Council, Ms Suzette Campbell, Marketing and Communications Manager of the ATL Group and students of the Mona Heights Primary School who entertained the audience with a road safety themed item.
The event concluded with a march from the ATL Showroom to Emancipation Park.