Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) buses have been involved in nearly 4,000 traffic accidents over the five-year period ending March 2022.
This was revealed by the State-run bus company in a response to questions posed by Loop News.
According to the JUTC, its drivers were involved in 3,963 accidents between April 2017 and March 2022. These crashes were “inclusive of accidents where third parties are at fault and/or contributed to the accidents,” the bus company shared.
A breakdown of the accidents involving JUTC buses over the period.
But, while it revealed the number of crashes, the JUTC was reluctant to state the level of claims against these accidents and the amount in dollar terms that has been settled although one insurance expert who did not want to be named said the amount would likely run into the millions of dollars.
Instead, the JUTC said: “Claims for accidents also include claims where the third parties themselves have caused and/or contributed to the event. The amount of money paid out to these claims varies year to year.”
“Regrettably, it is in our best interest if yearly figures are not released as the company has been a victim of frivolous and phoney claims costing the company millions,” it added.
A company representative told Loop News that individuals are quick to claim that they are injured when of the view that “there is money to be made”.
When asked how and by how much its insurance coverage would have increased each year over the last five years as a result of accident claims, the JUTC said its coverage is determined by market factors.
“The company sends an invitation to bid to the public requesting certain specifics. The insurance companies then tender the amount of coverage the company could receive, if selected. The company will then decide which coverage is best suitable, based on the nature of its operations”, JUTC said.
Additionally, the State-run bus company insisted that it is not necessarily penalised with a higher premium because of the high number of claims due to the nature of its business.
“The company’s premium is determined by several factors, including the insurance market, the nature of the company’s operations, its equipment, assets, and its staff complement. The insurers’ bids would indicate the premium payable if they are selected,” it said in its response.
The bus company also sought to explain the reason for the high number of crashes involving its buses.
“The nature of the company’s operation requires buses to be on the road for about 16 hours per day, seven days per week. In light of same, the likelihood of accidents is highly possible,” it said.
Meanwhile, the JUTC said that as of August this year, nine buses are out of service as a result of accidents, with seven of them being irreparable.
As to how the JUTC treats with drivers who are deemed to be reckless, thus contributing to accidents, the company explained that its policy begins with an investigation of the accidents.
“Based on the findings of same, where there is evidence that supports a charge being laid against the driver, charges are laid. If the driver is found at fault or guilty, sanctions are applied in accordance with the company’s disciplinary code,” it said.
The JUTC also has a re-training programme for its drivers found in breach of company policy.
In terms of the steps that have been taken by the company to reduce the number of accidents involving its drivers, JUTC shared that there is “constant training and retraining”.
Inviting the police to participate in talks with drivers about road safety, conducting internal accident reduction sessions and applying disciplinary sanctions form part of this effort.