'Jamaica importing vehicles that can kill'
Director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, Canute Hare.
Jamaica is importing vehicles that are below global safety standards, posing a grave risk to the lives of road users locally.
According to the Director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, Canute Hare, some of the vehicles that are being imported were not built to withstand the impact of a crash, resulting in energy being transferred to the occupants of the vehicles, causing deaths.
For this reason, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) is moving to establish a set of standards for motor vehicles, according to Director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport Canute Hare.
Hare also said the BSJ is looking to sensitise the public on various safety requirements to consider when purchasing a vehicle.
Among the safety factors that must be considered when purchasing a vehicle are crumple zones, roof strength, side-impact barriers, airbags, anti-lock braking system and electronic stability control.
“Drivers must ensure that the vehicles they are operating are safe and not devoid of these safety features because the occupants will not have a fighting chance to survive the collision,” Hare said.
Crumple zones are areas of a vehicle that are designed to deform and crumple in a collision. These areas absorb some of the energy of the impact, preventing it from being transmitted to the occupants.
Meanwhile, side-impact barriers protect passengers in cases where the impact of the crash is on the side of the vehicle, while the strength of the roof will help the passengers to survive an overturned vehicle by not caving in on the occupants.
“We have to encourage people to identify and recognise that it is not only the road surface and human beings causing the problem, but the vehicles also,” Hare told a roomful of safety and health experts at a United Nations convened workshop on Caribbean Road Safety at the Inter-American Development Bank’s office (IDB) in Kingston last week.
The motor-vehicle standard being established by the BSJ will ensure vehicles that operate on the island's roads are in accordance with United Nations' guidelines.
“We have signed on to the United Nations’ Decade of Actions for Road Safety that requires us to ensure that safer vehicles traverse the road networks. So these are the ingredients needed and we have to do them because we signed on to the regulations,” Hare said.