Saturday 7 December, 2019

IDB country rep challenges Jamaicans to get a grip on road safety

Therese Turner Jones

Therese Turner Jones

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Country Representative for Jamaica, Therese Turner Jones, has called for Jamaicans to take a stand against irresponsible road use.

She said reckless driving should not be the norm, and Jamaicans should “call it out when they see it, and not turn a blind eye.

“People ought to use their seat belts. Children need to be in car seats, and we should not be texting and driving. Texting is as bad, if not worse, than drinking and driving,” Turner Jones added.

Careless motorbike riding without helmets.

She was addressing the inaugural Caribbean Road Safety Workshop on Thursday at the IDB’s offices in St Andrew.

Turner Jones, who is General Manager for the IDB’s Caribbean Country Department, said the 269 road fatalities recorded in the island since the start of the year is “alarming”, noting that she is “deeply concerned”.

She said road crashes can result in loss of three or four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) from the economic cost associated with medical bills, loss of mobility and ability to work, and death.

“We talk about fatalities, but what about those who get injured, lose a limb and become burdens not just on their families, but also on society, to look after them. So it’s about protecting productivity, economic growth and also thinking about the pain and suffering in families,” she said.

Turner indicated that while low and middle income countries like Jamaica collectively account for 54 per cent of the world’s vehicles, such countries are collectively responsible for 90 per cent of all road fatalities.

“We ought to treat road safety the same sort of way we are dealing with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), because it really is a lifestyle issue, and we as human beings can adjust our lifestyles and modify our behaviours. We can address this,” she said.

The Caribbean Road Safety Workshop was held in an effort to strengthen the work being done to improve road safety and reduce road fatalities in the Caribbean region.

Since the start of the year, 269 persons have lost their lives in 244 road crashes across the island. Of the number, motorcyclists account for the highest demographic, with 82 fatalities, followed by pedestrians with 66 deaths.

The workshop was organised jointly by the IDB, the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (CEPAL), and the Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).

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