The Fourth United Nations (UN) Road Safety Week will be commemorated from May 8-14 2017, and Jamaica will be participating in this week of activities as we again bring road safety issues to the forefront. This is an affirmation by the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) of its unyielding commitment to encouraging safety on our roadways for all Jamaicans – including you the children – the future leaders of our country.
Under the theme “Save lives - #slowdown”, the focus this year is on reaching out to drivers to manage their speed to avoid injuries and deaths. The #slowdown campaign operates on the principles of the Decade of Action for Road Safety which was implemented in 2011 by the UN with an objective of attaining a 50% reduction in projected road fatalities from 2011-2020.
As chairman of the NRSC, I use this opportunity to call on every student to take personal responsibility for his or her safety. Too many lives have been lost as a result of negligence, and too few people are taking this as seriously as they ought to. Despite the many appeals from the NRSC and the police for drivers to be safe on the road, during the recent Easter weekend, Jamaica recorded the second highest fatalities since 2001 – a figure that was only topped by those in 2008. Over this period, 10 Jamaicans lost their lives.
Today is a great day in the Globe’s road safety history. The Road Safety Superpower of the Caribbean Region has positioned herself as a serious road safety nation and in light of the fact that excessive speeding is one of the dominant reason why One hundred and ten (110) persons have been killed, the United Nations theme “Slow Down” is quite appropriate but our Honourable Minister tasked us to ensure that our people understand the profound need to be Responsible in the Traffic Environment.
The need for Speed Reduction is knocking home very swiftly as we are now able to know definitely whether persons were operating their motor vehicle in a speeding, swerving or overtaking manner, thanks to the Black Box which are now in every vehicle that is equipped with an airbag. We see impact speeds as low as between 38.5 kph to as high as 109 kph whereby there was a Vehicle- Pedestrian confrontation that causes Pedestrians to be killed.
A critical component of the United Nations Global Road Safety Week is to #Slow Down by ensuring that the following measures are implemented because they have proven quite successfully in reducing road deaths.
§ Building or modifying roads to include features that calm traffic;
§ Establishing speed limits to the function of each road;
§ Enforcing speed limits;
§ Installing in-vehicle technologies; and
§ Raising awareness about the dangers of speeding.
One of the things that we must do with alacrity is to profoundly protect our pedestrians from the rapacious effect from a speeding motor vehicle because all it takes to give pedestrians an untimely death is 30 kph much less 109 kph.
As we celebrate the United Nations Global Road Safety Week, let us do it for our pedestrians and ensure that in areas where they are located, we don’t have persons travelling above 30 kph as the human body was never designed to deal with the amount of energy.