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SAFER STREETS - Islandwide curfew puts brakes on road deaths

BY BRIAN BONITTO
Associate Editor—
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 01, 2020

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KENUTE Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit (RSU), says since the Government's imposition of the islandwide curfews in a bid to stymie the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), there has been a drastic reduction in the number of people being killed on the road network.

According to data supplied by the RSU, 130 people have died on the island's road network since the start of the year. This is 30 fewer than the corresponding period last year.

“COVID to the rescue. COVID-19 has caused people to not being able to drive in the nights. Therefore, the risk factor of night collision has been seriously eliminated,” Hare told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

“All these 130 people who have died are untimely deaths. They died before their time and it could have been easily avoided. However, because of COVID-19, there have been a lot of curfews and limitations on the movement of people across the country. As a result, the risks have been reduced and, therefore, we see it manifest itself in road deaths,” he continued.

On April 1, Prime Minister Andrew Holness introduced a nationwide curfew beginning at 8:00 pm to 6:00 am. That restriction was further tightened on April 22, starting from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am daily. It would run for 14 days.

The 14-day quarantine of St Catherine, scheduled to end on April 29, was extended and will end today.

Up to yesterday morning, 396 Jamaicans tested positive for COVID-19 while seven succumbed to the illness.

“Before the corona pandemic, we were running more than one a day,” said Hare.

Hare was quick to point out that the recklessness on the roads continue unabated.

“Since the start of the month, 15 people have died; nine of whom were motorcycle drivers and the majority are from Westmoreland. Issue with motorcyclists is that they not wearing protective gear to their peril,” he said.

Of the 13o people killed, 44 were motorcycle drivers.

Last year 440 people were killed on the island's road network; 2018 saw 389; while 322 died 2017.

Hare had a word of advise to for road users.

“We hope that the same effort people are taking to keep themselves clean and sanitised to prevent the coronavirus from affecting them, it's same way I would like motorists to take precautions while using the roads.

Established in March 1994, the RSU, in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, aims to promote and advance road safety education in schools through presentations, literature and integrated programmes with the Ministry of Education as well as positively influence road user behaviour through well designed public information campaigns.


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