Highlights of the 4th UN Global Road Safety Week 2017

  • Zoleka Mandela grand-daughter of Nelson Mandela speaking at the #SlowItDown Event at the Office of the Prime Minister.
  • The Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Lester 'Mike' Henry (right) and Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Tdot (left) having a friendly chat.
  • Yohan Blake 2x Olympian signing the Slow It Down pledge at the #SlowItDown Event at the Office of the Prime Minister, Kingston,Jamaica.
  • Jonelle Sharpe of the Road Safety Unit within the Ministry of Transport and Mining educating the Bethlehem All Age student on the topic of Road Safety.

The 4th United Nations Global Road Safety Week of activities for 2017 further highlights the fact that the world is grappling with the carnage on the roads: crashes, injuries and deaths.

This undoubtedly affects the socio-economic fabric of member states. Approximately 1.2 million persons are killed annually on the global road network. This means that over 3,000 persons are being killed on a daily basis globally.

Not only is this statistics startling, but every 3 minutes a child is killed on the global road network. Close to 50 million persons are injured annually, as a result of traffic crashes, which for the most part could have been easily prevented if persons were acting responsibly in the traffic environment.

But let me take you to our own back yard. Jamaica as we speak has recorded 110 fatalities needlessly on the road network in 124 days.

I am extremely concerned, because when the data is analysed, Human Behaviour is playing a significant role in the mayhem on the road network.

 

Therefore, while the United Nations require us to highlight the concept of speed management, I am given to believe that we must go further to get every individual to take personal responsibility for his or her safety in the traffic environment.

He or she must first respect his or her life and then respects the lives of others. It therefore follows that if you don’t respect your life, you are not going to respect the lives of other road users.

Statistics from the Road Safety Unit in my Ministry indicate that the following factors account for most of the road deaths so far:

  •  Failing to keep traffic lane
  •  Excessive speeding
  • Inappropriate use of the road by pedestrians and the
  • Lack of protective devices being used by motorcyclists, motorists, front seat passengers and back seat passengers

Many lives could have been saved if persons were acting responsibly in the traffic environment.

How can a driver hit a pedestrian at 100 kilometres per hour and expect him or her to survive when the speed limit for the area is 50 kilometres per hour?

The last time when I was Minister, we were able to reduce road traffic deaths to below 300 in 2012. My Ministry is a fully committed to use modern technology to analyse all traffic crashes.

We have given the Jamaica Constabulary force two Black Box kits, to ensure that they are able to better investigate and analyse traffic crashes and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure this continues.

Already the Road Safety Unit has been able to leverage the use of Black Box Technology in the analysis of traffic crashes, similar to what is being done in the developed countries. Mr Hare I expect these reports to be published, so that Jamaica develops its own body of road safety data, rather than having to depend on data from developed nations.

I want to see the Black Box fully utilised to determine the cause of traffic crashes and I am advising motorists, that there are going to be consequences for their actions. I want the Accident Investigation and Reconstruction Units to ensure that all motor vehicles involved in a traffic crashes are subjected to a Black Box analysis.

It is important that we get to the root cause of these crashes, so that the requisite road safety remedial measures can be taken.

It would be fool hardy of me not to condemn the indiscipline, impatience and wanton lawlessness on the road network.

But, this is by no means to discount to role of poor road conditions and vehicle defects. It is important that in developing and designing our roads we utilize high skid resistant material that is readily available, since our limestone polishes overtime and renders the road surface unsafe.

I did not know that the unbroken white line meant you can overtake once it is clear and the broken white line means you can overtake anytime. This was what a speeding motorist told a policeman in St Ann, when he overtook a long line of traffic, where the white line was unbroken. This certainly gives rise to the need for education and robust sustainable road safety enforcement on the nation’s roadways from Morant Point to Negril Point.  

There is no need to be speed because you are late. If you are late, you can only reach later. Remember the place to which you are speeding is not moving.

I noticed that most of our motor-cyclists are not wearing helmets. Well I know Kentucky sells leg, breast and thigh. But I know of no shop that sells heads or brains so I am asking motorists and motor-cyclists to please SLOW IT DOWN

Jamaica will celebrate the Global Road Safety Week with activities in the churches, schools and communities across the country. I appeal to all churches this weekend, join with us as we set ourselves on the pathway to hurriedly bring road fatalities below 300 

Finally, I appeal to all musicians to come together for road safety month and do a road safety medley. Too many of our people are dying and families are suffering both physically and psychologically.

The time is now for every Jamaican to become involved in Road Safety. The future of our country is our young people. We cannot continue to lose them at the current rate in Road crashes.

 

I therefore now declare the UN Global Road Safety Week launched in Jamaica and look forward to the countries full participation, as we endeavour to leave a legacy of safety for our people.