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Traffic deaths out of control in Jamaica prompted Damian Marley to write song “Reach Home Safe”

Kingston Jamaica: According to the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, the latest report indicates that 236 people have died in 216 crashes. This shows a shocking increase of 24 percent when compared to last year's statistics of the same period. There were 38 road deaths in February; 36 in January; 35 in March and 32 in June. 76 motorcyclists have died since January 1, 2019. Based on the latest figures released by the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, it can be concluded that Jamaica is averaging 39 road deaths monthly.

police officer examing a vechile following a crash

Since this past weekend, five more Jamaicans did not reach home safely. Report shows two persons died on Saturday July 13/2019 in Priory, St. Ann due to a minibus crashing into Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus. Two persons died the night prior along the Palisadoes Road in East Kingston when a motor crashed with a Knutsford Express bus. That same night a car hit a pedestrian along Mountain View Avenue. These additional fatalities now bring the figure to 241 road deaths.

Mini bus crashes into JUTC bus

The report stated that human activity rather than mechanical defects contributes to the high number of road fatalities each year. The report also indicates that the main factors are that drivers are speeding, many driving under the influence of alcohol, others overtaking irresponsibly and being distracted by the use of cell phones while in motion. Drivers and passengers are also refusing to use their seat-belts and motorists are failing to use proper helmets and gears. However, it is not just drivers that are dying due to road accidents. Road Safety Unit stated that pedestrians account for a third of road traffic fatalities.

The high number of road deaths has prompted Damian “Junior Gong” Marley to dedicate a single titled “Reach Home Safe” that speaks to one of the possible causes. According to Highway 2000 East-West and the Road Safety Unit , drunk driving or driving under the influence of alcohol is one driver error identified as a possible cause of road accidents.

Damian “Junior Gong” Marley:

Mek up mi mind say tonight mi decide fi party
And dat mean say none of my friend dem can't party harder than me
Cause who the hell unnu expect fi drive
Like dem want gamble with we life
And me want each and every one of my parry fi

Reach home safe!
Dat a the most import thing
Cause mi love my family
Reach home safe!
No bother with the driving when you a drink
And go tear down golden springs

A couple of months ago, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness appealed to motorists to exercise greater care when it came using the roads. He stated at the launch of Workers' Week and Labour Day 2019 activities at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in May that it is “driver error, driver judgment and driver indiscipline” that contribute mainly to motor crashes. The Road Safety unity has released several safety guidelines so that fatalities can be avoided once these necessary steps are taken. Some of these are:

Tips for Motorists to Stay Safe

  • Do not exceed the prescribed speed limit.
  • Do not drive after drinking or using mind-altering substances such as drugs or alcohol.
  • Commercial entities can install alcolocks in motor vehicles to ensure the safety of their driver and merchandise
  • Wear seatbelts, front seat and back seat passengers should practice this behaviour.
  • Adhere to seatbelt warning signals.
  • Try to minimize distractions. Avoid using DVD players and cell phones while driving.
  • Do not drive if feeling tired or haven't slept in the last 18 hours.
  • Pedestrians are unable to judge speed and distance. Motorists should ensure they look out for them especially the children.
Minibus that crashed into JUTC bus

Tips for Pedestrians to Stay Safe:

  • Cross at spots where there are stop signs, traffic lights, crosswalks and where all vehicular traffic is visible.
  • Stay on the sidewalk (if available) when walking. If there are no adequate sidewalks, walk on the right side against traffic so you can see motorists oncoming.
  • Don't use cellphones or other distracting gadgets such as MP3's when walking.
  • Staying alert for vehicles turning, vehicle running the red light. Do not start to cross until all traffic has stopped.
  • When crossing at locations without signals, cross the street one lane at a time. Cross into the next lane only when it is safe to do so.
  • Look right, left and then right again for traffic before crossing a crosswalk. Never assume that a vehicle is going to stop for you.
  • Wear light or bright coloured clothing at night, avoid dark coloured clothing, especially at dusk and at nights.
  • Use pedestrian overhead bridges where provided.
  • When travelling in large groups walk in a single file (one behind the other) along the roadway if no sidewalk is available.

Pedestrian of different ages are at risk in different situations and for different reasons as follows:

Age of Pedestrian Risk Factors
 1 to 2 years Reversing or backing-up
3 to 9 years Dart out - don't know the rules
10 to 14 years Dart out - know the rules but don't always follow them
Adults Alcohol/Drugs/Inattention/Distraction

Road Safety Tips for Children and Parents

  • Look right, left, right again before crossing the road. Wait for vehicles on both sides of the road to stop before you cross.
  • Cross at pedestrian crossings and traffic signals where they are available.
  • Wait until the motor vehicles stop before entering the roadway.
  • Do not play near or the roadway.
  • Walk on the side of the road facing oncoming traffic if there is no sidewalk.
  • Walk in a single file when walking with a group of friends where there is a narrow or no sidewalk.
  • Always wear a helmet, elbow, and knees pads when riding a bicycle.
  • If a child is a pillion passenger ensure that the child is wearing a well-fitted motorcycle helmet.
  • All persons including children are prohibited from riding/ hoping on the rear of large vehicles such as buses or vans.

 

We, at Jamaica Live, would like all Jamaicans to “reach home safe” so please adhere to the road codes, rules, and safety guidelines.

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