May 25, 2021- As the curtains close on the 6th annual observance of the United Nations Global Road Safety Week, the Jamaica Constabulary Force is reminding persons to obey the rules of the road, as they are the foundation for road safety.
Citing data on the number of traffic crashes since the start of the year, the Force’s traffic boss, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Gary McKenzie, made an appeal for persons to be mindful of the road rules, road signs and markings and to obey the speed limit.
And with excessive speed topping the list of the causes of fatal traffic collisions in Jamaica and worldwide, part of this year’s observance of Global Road Safety Week centred around considerations for lowering the speed limit for built-up areas to 30 kilometres per hour. The present speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour.
“Excessive speed accounted for 28 percent of all fatal traffic collisions since the start of the year,” SSP McKenzie shared. And to put it into perspective, excessive speed is more than 4000 times more likely to be cited as the reason for fatalities than a mechanical defect with the motor vehicle,” he said.
“Excessive speeding is also cited more than 50 percent more frequently than the second leading cause of fatal crashes, and so there is ample evidence to justify the call for drivers to slow down,” he said.
SSP McKenzie also made a special appeal for drivers who use the roads after the nightly 8:00 p.m. curfew. Some 28 fatal road crashes were recorded between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. since January of this year.
Recalling one particularly tragic incident, in which four people were killed in a crash on Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston on Friday, April 23, SSP McKenzie said while the local data was still being analyzed, the international trends observed are particularly troubling. He explained that across the world, despite reduced road usage due to various measures imposed by governments to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths from traffic collisions have increased, and the overwhelming reason citing is increased risky behaviours from drivers, such as speeding. The number of fatal crashes in Jamaica is up 12 percent, with the number of deaths showing a slightly higher increase of 14 percent.
“We are currently analysing the data we have to come to gauge the extent of the issue, but just from our interactions with persons on the road, we have noticed that the behaviour of drivers on the road becomes more erratic after curfew hours. They disobey traffic signs, the four-way stops are no longer observed and yes, persons tend to drive with excessive speed,” he said.
SSP McKenzie said the details of each of the 28 crashes after curfew hours are being analyzed to determine the causes for the specific incidents. He said the analysis would also consider whether the persons involved had legitimate reasons for being outside their premises after curfew hours.
“While we wait for the analysis, we can still take action to save lives. We have already lost 176 Jamaicans in traffic collisions; the majority of them are in the 20-29 age group—the prime of their lives. The streets may look empty after curfew hours, but that doesn’t mean the road rules do not apply. Obey the traffic lights, keep to the left of the road and drive at the speed limit. These are actions that keep you alive,” SSP McKenzie urged.
UN Global Road Safety Week was observed from May 17-23. This year’s observance marked the beginning of the second decade of action to make roads worldwide safer. The goal is to reduce global road fatalities by half by 2030.