One-third of road fatalities recorded during curfews
Vice Chairman of the National Road Safety Council Dr Lucien Jones says he is not surprised that the country has surpassed last year’s total road fatalities , but noted that this year’s figure, which stood at 473 yesterday, is most disturbing.
Jamaica last year recorded 433 road deaths and 440 in 2019.
A third of the road deaths this year (154) occurred during curfew hours.
Earlier in the year, head of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute, Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr, had projected that the road fatalities would fall between 435 and 472 this year.
The island saw a historic 434 road deaths recorded in 1993. The last time the country recorded fewer than 300 road deaths was in 2012 when 256 persons lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents.
For that reason, Jones said, the current statistics were not surprising.
“We are not surprised because from early in the year he has been warning us that based on the rate of people who were dying per day, we were heading in this direction. So we are not surprised, but it’s still very disappointing and very disturbing and it means that we have to do a lot of things very differently in 2022 that we didn’t do in 2021,” he said.
“The key thing that did not happen this year was the deterrent system because the Road Traffic Act was not implemented; therefore, people could use a telephone and be distracted without having a hands-free instrument; the cameras, which have been long promised, were [also] not there for us to detect speed and detect red light infraction,” he said.
Jones stressed that an effective deterrent system that encompasses the promised improved ticketing system, along with the implementation of the Road Traffic Act, was needed to help reduce the figures.
“If those three things are operational, then that can make a huge difference in terms of helping people to make better choices in terms of speeding because right now, there is no significant deterrent to speeding because the system isn’t working effectively and, therefore, you have this type of chaos on the road where people drive as they will,” Jones explained.
According to the National Road Safety Council vice chairman, speeding, reckless driving and motorcyclists riding without helmets were the primary causes for death on the road this year, although significantly more pedestrian and private motor car driver deaths were seen, the majority of which resulted from excessive speed.
In addition, he said some 115 motorcyclists died just from carelessness, lack of training and not wearing helmets.
“The most important thing in road safety is a safe system, safe road, safe vehicle, safe road users, safe speed and an effective post-crash system. If we can get the speeding part of it right and then we can deal with the safe roads, which is also a major issue, then have safe road users – who are not driving under the influence of alcohol, distracted by the use of cell phones, not driving under the influence of marijuana, road users who use their helmets ... or seat belt – then we can make 2022 a different year than 2021,” said Jones.
He said Jamaica also needs to make a decision on the importation of safe vehicles, which, among other things, would include the use of an electronic stabiliser control system to help motorcyclists when executing evasive manoeuvres without losing control of the bikes.