Jamaica News, As Jamaicans prepare to ring in the New Year, the Ministry of Transport and Mining is imploring road users to exercise caution on the nation’s roads.
Accident Analyst Statistician in the Road Safety Unit, Francine White, noted that typically, there is increased alcohol consumption during the celebrations and is, therefore, advising persons to arrange to have a designated driver to minimise the chance of road crashes.
“You have to understand that alcohol does impair your judgment, so it is better to do without it or have no more than one glass or have a designated driver,” she urged.
Ms. White is also encouraging motorists to cut speed, which she noted, is one of the leading causes of road fatalities.
“There is no need to speed. If you feel like you are going to be late, leave out earlier; just take extra precautions on the road. For drivers, we want to remind them when they are driving over the season, please, drive for your family. Drive for who they are going to leave behind,” she said
Ms. White noted that “driving fatigued” is also a main concern, and is encouraging persons to ensure that they are well rested before they get behind the wheel.
“Ensure that you are not driving exhausted. When you do that, your vision and your reaction time are impaired. That is one of the main tips,” she said.
Additionally, she is advising motorists to utilise the alternative routes that have been designated to facilitate roadwork projects.
“The roadworks are not something that we can help at this time. We have to operate around it. Use the alternate routes and proceed with caution when you are going on these roads, because you don’t know the state of the roads. Cut your speed, keep to your side of the road and don’t overtake unnecessarily,” she cautioned.
Pedestrians are also being encouraged to be vigilant on the roads and use pedestrian crossings and sidewalks. Where there are none, Ms. White advised that persons walk on the side of the road that faces oncoming traffic. She said that persons should wear bright-coloured clothing, especially at night, so that they will be visible to motorists.
Pedestrians using the crosswalk in Half-Way Tree, St. Andrew.
Motorcyclists are encouraged to wear protective gear such as helmets, gloves, boots, chest and back protectors, and knee-and-shin guards.
For the period January 1 to December 27, there have been 373 fatalities from 330 fatal crashes. This is an increase from 320 fatalities from 293 fatal crashes for the corresponding period last year.
Of the 373 road accidents this year, pedestrians accounted for 21 per cent, private motor vehicle drivers, 19 per cent; private motor vehicle passengers, 14 per cent; and motorcyclists, 26 per cent.
Vulnerable road users account for 57 per cent of road fatalities for the period. This group is comprised of pedestrian, pedal cyclists and pillion cyclists.
The majority of accidents occurred across the parishes of Trelawny, St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, which accounted for 31 per cent of road fatalities.
Meanwhile, 25 per cent of fatalities were reported across the parishes of St. Andrew North, St. Catherine North and South, and St. Thomas.
St. Andrew Central, South and Kingston accounted for 12 per cent of fatalities from road crashes.