More crashes on good roads, says Road Safety Unit official
Poor lighting, absence of proper road markings and deplorable surfaces are among the challenges facing Jamaican road users, but most traffic crashes, especially those resulting in fatalities, happen in places where the road surfaces are much improved, according to the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport and Mining.
"Some of the roads are not marked, and especially at night it can be very challenging, but the motorists not crashing in those areas," Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit, told The Gleaner.
"They crash where the road is nicely laid, but the fact that they are crashing in those areas, I don't want anybody to believe that I am supporting the notion that we mustn't fix the road and ensure that we have proper road markings, proper lighting. I am just telling you what is happening out there."
TAKE NOTE OF ROAD CONDITIONS
He advised that motorists drive according to the road conditions, modifying their strategies to cope with the situation as it presents.
He explained: "Motorists have a duty to take note of the road conditions and drive accordingly. If the road is glistening white, it means that the surface is polished and, therefore, very slippery, even when dry. It means that there is less friction on the road and so you must cut your speed. So if it's raining you must cut your speed dramatically because when the first rain drops, oil comes to the surface, and the faster you are going the greater chance that the vehicle can cause problems.
"The big issue, though, is that there have been instances where we suspect that persons fall asleep at the wheel because they are tired. They overdo their bodies. Some take drugs to keep them up because they want to drive long distances, but the only antidote for sleep is sleep. Get adequate rest. Get yourself in good psychological frame of mind to operate on the network. Your body talks to you so respect it because when is sleep time the body will just shut down, and you don't want to be at the wheel at that time."
Spare them the agony - Hare
With 32 persons killed on the road as at Friday, November 23, during the course of the month, it is evident that road users are not paying attention to the key issues, with motorcyclists high on the list of careless drivers, according to Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit.
"Motorcyclists don't like to wear helmets so their heads and the asphalt are clashing against each other, and the asphalt is winning. Apart from the helmet, they need to be wearing elbow pads, knee pads, shoulder pads and a jacket to protect their spinal cord, but they don't hear, so a lot of them are feeling already," he added.
Young males between 18 and 25 are the main culprits behind most crashes, a situation the road safety proponent attributes to their raging machismo.
"We let our ego get the better of us out there, and then those vehicles that we put our trust in they fail us because we overdo it. So I am appealing to the women in the household to encourage their men to think about how their death or disability would affect them and other loved ones such as children. Women tend to be much more responsible and tend to love life. Probably most have done a profound job of carrying for nine months, so they honour and respect life more than men."
For the men, he had this advice: "When you become part of the statistics it causes destruction of their family. The widows, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers never recover and are scarred socially, economically and psychologically for life. Your death is something they can never forget or recover from. Spare them the agony."