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Road accidents in Jamaica are receiving increasing attention from all stakeholders following the release of information that the number of deaths due to road accidents is nearing 200, even before half the calendar year has passed. By around the same time last year, 176 death had been accounted for due to road fatalities. This means an increase of 22% over last year. The Road Safety Unit (RSU) within the Ministry of Transport and Mining is the nodal agency that monitors accidents and road safety.
Are Predictions Reliable?
Interestingly, the RSU had earlier released certain statistics on what it believes would be the projected figures for 2019 under different categories. These projections seem to indicate that the overall situation may be much better this year compared to 2018. Some of these categories are child fatalities, deaths caused due to accidents involving private motor vehicles, deaths of drivers of such private vehicles and so on. RSU revealed that the numbers will be less this year by percentages ranging between 4% and 29%. Even fewer numbers of cyclists are expected to die in 2019, according to RSU. The only category of people in which the RSU estimates more lives to be lost on the roads is the ‘Aged’ category. The figure put out by RSU here is a 9% increase over 2018. The senior citizens also constitute a significant 15% of all the fatalities accounted for in road accidents.
In terms of the geographical divide, St. Catherine appears to have registered the maximum road fatalities.
More Motorcyclists Die
One category of road users feared to be killed more often are those riding motorcycles. Whatever the underlying reasons, there have been 61 deaths, out of the total 192 deaths reported till June 6, 2019, clearly a third. What is more, it is more than last year’s figures by a whopping 85%. There is a possibility that the riders of these two-wheelers are less stable or the riders are mostly youngsters displaying less patience on the roads. They may have been speeding on the roads or making dangerous overtaking maneuvers putting their own lives at risk.
The RSU may have to take this seriously and educate the motorcyclists to be more cautious. Then there are cases where the parents may have to be advised if their wards are not old enough to ride motorcycles, but are allowed to do so. This puts them and others on the roads at risk as well.