Director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Works, Kenute Hare says males between 21 and 40 years of age will be targeted more in 2011, as they accounted for more than 90 per cent of fatal accidents that occurred in 2010.
“We have to reach out to them more; we have to get them to fall in line and we have to get them to respect the tenets of how they should operate within the traffic environment,” Mr. Hare said in an interview with JIS News.
The Unit had aimed to keep road fatalities below 300 for 2010. However, this target was missed as 309 persons died on the nation’s roads, as at December 30, 2010.
He noted that pedestrians were the most vulnerable road users. “They don’t wear helmets and they don’t wear seatbelts. They depend on motorists to look out for them and to care about their lives. They also depend on the environment itself to protect them,” Mr. Hare said.
To this end, a road improvement programme has been designed by the Road Safety Unit to look critically at the state of sidewalks, with a view of improving their usability.
“Presently, we are calling on the Jamaica Public Service Company to work with us, because some of the light posts will have to be removed, because they are obstacles to pedestrians and wheelchair persons. Sometimes we see the light posts in the sidewalk and pedestrians have to negotiate it by walking in the road. We want to keep our pedestrians in a hospitable environment,” Mr. Hare said.
Meanwhile, the Director is urging motorcyclists to wear the proper helmet for their protection on the roads.
“We have a problem in two parishes, Hanover and Westmoreland. These motorcyclists in these parishes don’t wear helmet and we are extremely saddened by the fact that most of the motorcyclists killed are from that side of the country and we are calling on the Jamaica Constabulary Force to deal with this issue,” Mr. Hare said.
The mission of the Road Safety Unit is to promote and foster an orderly and disciplined traffic culture that is conducive to the development of a safe traffic environment, through the conceptualisation, design and dissemination of a sustained programme of public information, education in schools, legislation, accident information and research.