As the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) gears up to commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) this weekend, the executives have outlined that they are anticipating the implementation of electronic enforcement in the traffic ticketing system across Jamaica.
Dr. Lucien Jones, Vice-Chairman of the NRSC noted that the electronic enforcement will strengthen the current initiatives across the island, and help Jamaica to move in alignment with the WDR theme for 2023 – Justice, honouring the slogan “Remember. Support. Act.” Under the theme, the focus is on traffic law enforcement and thorough investigation.
According to Regulation 237 of the Road Traffic Regulations, 2022, the Authority may permit the use of electronic monitoring devices to monitor roadways. An electronic monitoring device remotely captures data about vehicles used on roads and is designed to detect violations under the Act. The offences which may be detected by these electronic enforcement devices include exceeding the speed limit, disobeying traffic signs, making improper turns, incorrect use of the bus lane, and driving a motor vehicle without a certificate of fitness, registration, licence, or insurance (regulation 238).
“To move in alignment to reduce road fatalities, road safety should be given high priority, similar to the crime and activities we need to undertake for sustainable development of our country,” said Dr. Jones. “Investing in electronic monitoring devices to monitor our roadways is a critical step in the right direction.
Dr. Jones also posited that honouring the current WDR theme in combination with the Safe System approach has the potential to be a game-changer and lifesaver, but there is more work that needs to be done to fully tap into the benefits. “We continue to see a tragic loss of life due to road crashes. The only way to curtail this and to fully and appropriately fund the investment in the Safe System approach. We acknowledge that humans make mistakes, but those mistakes should not cost lives. They have been costing lives and taking away breadwinners and some of our most productive members of society, but that should not be the case. Our focus as a country should be on designing adequate road systems, vehicles, and speed limits that reduce the severity of crashes, even when errors occur, as we can expect that they will.”
Crashes to Date – Comparison to November 2022
To date, fatalities have decreased by 15% while fatal crashes have decreased by 9% compared to the same period last year. There have been 325 road crashes with 353 fatalities for 2023, compared to 359 fatal crashes in 2022 and 413 deaths. The statistics show that the main groups are motorcyclists, who account for 32% of the road users killed since the start of the year; private motor vehicle drivers who account for 20%; pedestrians who account for 19%, and private motor vehicle passengers who account for 11%.
Securing Progress for The Safe System Approach: Holistic Road Safety Measures
Jamaica has adopted the Safe System Approach which positions road safety as a key driver of sustainable development. The Safe System Approach aims to minimize fatalities through design that accommodates human mistakes and injury tolerances. The Safe System approach addresses the safety of every road user, including those who walk, bike, drive, ride transit, and travel by other modes, all of which are being advanced by the NRSC through their work across Jamaica.
Paula Fletcher, Executive Director of the NRSC noted that globally, road traffic crashes cause nearly 1.3 million preventable deaths and an estimated 50 million injuries each year. Road crashes are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide and pose a serious threat to the lives of children and young adults. Fletcher said trends in Jamaica continue to show a need for improvement to achieve the targets of the Second Decade of Action, which has a target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. “As a country, we need to take critical steps to include multimodal transport, safe road structures, safe vehicles, safe road usage, and proper crash response that minimizes injury, and helps to preserve lives,” Fletcher said. “We have seen improvements with the Road Traffic Regulations, 2022, and now that we are looking forward to the traffic enforcement, we are cautiously optimistic,” she added.
Fletcher said the onus is also on individual road users to exercise increased caution and vigilance when traversing the nation’s roadways. “Road crashes and fatalities are trending down but we have lost 353 Jamaicans on the nation’s roads. It’s heartbreaking. We cannot rest until we have a steady reduction in all road fatalities.”
Commemorative Church Service to Honour Lives Lost
The NRSC will mark WDR with a church service that will take place this Sunday, November 19, 2023, at Transformed Life Church in Kingston. The service commences at 10:00 AM and aims to provide a space for acknowledging the lives lost and altered because of road crashes, and providing solace to grieving families while advocating for a collective commitment to safer roads.
“Our WDR church service is a reminder to the families that we acknowledge and sympathize with them. It doubles as a call to action for us individually and collectively,” said Dr. Jones. “On Sunday, we will come together to honour those who have been affected by road crashes and to recommit to fostering an environment that makes road safety a priority. To make Justice a priority, and to remind us that we can all make a meaningful change.”
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