Road Crashes Impacting Development- Earl Jarrett
Earl Jarrett, Chairman of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) says Jamaica is losing very important intellectual and economic resources to road crashes.
Noting that the majority of persons killed were in the age group ten to 39 years, Mr. Jarrett indicated that the island’s development was being stymied by these preventable incidents. Persons in this age group account for more than 50 percent of road fatalities recorded, so far this year, data from the Road safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Works reveal.
“And, of course these deaths impact areas, such as the increase cost to our healthcare system; the loss of productivity in the workforce; and the reduction of skills for national development,” the JAA Chairman, whose organization is heavily involved in road safety advocacy, commented.
The Patron of the Third Annual Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo, held last Saturday (June 18), was addressing participants and a cross section of motorists and pedestrians, at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St. Andrew.
Referring to the need to minimise crashes, against the background of the recent launch of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011- 2020 and the Vision 2030 Development Plan for Jamaica, Mr. Jarrett noted that if more is not done to stymie road crashes, then road fatalities could surpass HIV/AIDS deaths both in Jamaica and around the world.
“Road safety is, without a doubt, one of the most critical areas that we, as citizens, must address, given the significant loss of life on our roads, daily,” he said, pointing to data which showed that about 138 people had been killed in road incidents since the start of the year. This figure represents an increase of about five percent over the same period last year.
“The deaths result in the loss of important intellectual and economic resources each day and immeasurable human suffering. Often families are left to bear severe economic burdens, when the main bread winner is injured or dies in a road crash; as well as, the pain of losing children and other family members,” he said. Road crashes are currently the main killer of young people around the globe.
Alan Barnes, Managing Director of Red Stripe and keynote speaker at the Expo added that responsible alcohol consumption, particularly among young people, must be effectively promoted as one of the measures to reduce road fatalities and injuries.
He noted that Diageo, the United Kingdom-based parent company of Red Stripe, had implemented several responsible drinking programmes over the years, which brought together a cross-section of influential people and organisations, but he said more needs to be done.
“We recognize that nobody has a monopoly on effective programmes, which is why we introduced DRINKiQ.com, which seeks to pull resources from many people and many sources in order to educate our consumers, customers and public about alcohol,” he said.
Mr. Barnes pointed out that alcohol is a special product which enhances social activities, but warned against its misuse.
He recommended several tips for consumers when attending social gatherings, including: “spacing alcohol with soft drinks; avoid topping up drinks so that you know how much you have consumed; alternate water with alcohol; eat before or while drinking; and think about how you will get home before going to the party”
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