Victor Anderson, representative of the The National Road Safety Council (NRSC), is urging Jamaicans to adopt a ‘mindset of safety first’ on the roads.
He also said that reduced road fatalities and injuries would dramatically reduce the pain, dislocation and cost suffered by road crash victims and their families.
Anderson made those statements on Tuesday (June 6) at the launch of the Grennell’s Driving School Crash Free 2023 Defensive Driving Workshop and Road Safety Expo.
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that road crashes cost countries three per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) and for developing countries, the cost is even higher,” he said.
“Can we imagine what an extra three per cent of GDP, or perhaps even five per cent of GDP, could do for the quality of lives of Jamaicans? In that context, I appeal to Jamaicans to adopt a mindset of safety first on our roads,” he added.
Anderson then shared five points on what a safety first mindset looks like for Jamaicans.
Five points to a safety first mindset on Jamaican roads
- Lower speeds: Not only would lower speeds save drivers in fines for speeding offences, but the experts tell us that a five per cent reduction in average speeds would result in 20 per cent less fatalities.
- Bring an end to driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs including marijuana: International experience tells us that 30 per cent of road crash fatalities and injuries involve the use of alcohol. Under the road traffic act, any person found to be driving under the influence of alcohol will be charged up to J$50,000 and have their driver’s license suspended for a year.
“We also have been encouraging the police to do breath checks on any driver caught speeding and every driver involved in a road crash. We hope that it will soon be possible for that to happen on a more widespread basis. Note also that it is a J$10,000 ticketable offence to be seen smoking ganja while driving,” informed, Anderson.
- End distracted road use: It is now an offense to drive while using a mobile phone unless it is handsfree and there is a separate offense for driving while viewing a video device.
“The distraction problem is not only with drivers. I often see pedestrians step out of the curb into the path of vehicles. They wear headphones with their eyes glued to the phone totally unaware of the danger that they’re putting themselves in. It’s the only the grace of God why more pedestrians are not killed on our roads,” said Anderson.
- Pedestrians encouraged to wear light coloured or reflective clothing at night: There is a reason that police do this. It increases their visibility and their conspicuity. These vests are also enhanced by strips of reflective material so it catches the light especially at night.
“You can get these strips of reflective material, put it on to your backpack or your clothing and walk with it at night,” the NRSC representative encouraged.
- Driving defensively: In other words, driving a motor vehicle in a way that anticipates dangerous situations that may arise on the road and in all circumstances, giving yourself enough time to take effective action to prevent a crash.
“This approach reflects a profoundly different perspective from which to operate a motor vehicle and I recommend it to all of us,” Anderson said.
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