Newsmaker… Week: 10 road deaths in 3 days cause alarm and concerns Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

This week’s featured development as Newsmaker of the Week is the recent spike in fatal crashes locally, which resulted in the deaths of 10 people over the first three days of April.

The figure is three more than the seven deaths that were recorded over the same period last year, according to Vice-Chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Dr Lucien Jones, who expressed alarm about the developments in a statement on Thursday. 

Overall, 112 people died as a result of injuries they sustained in motor vehicle crashes up to then, a five per cent decline in comparison to the corresponding period last year, the Road Safety Unit (RSU) in the Ministry of Transport reported.

The situation relative to fatal crashes in St Ann is particularly alarming, as four people died in two separate collisions between Easter Sunday and Wednesday. 

In Sunday’s incident, 49-year-old housekeeper Suzette Thomas of Wildman Street in Kingston died and 23 other persons, including 16 children, were left injured after a Nissan Caravan collided with a stonewall and overturned on a section of the Fern Gully main road in St Ann.

The vehicle was heading on a family excursion to St Mary.

On Wednesday, another fatal collision claimed the lives of two men and a woman on the Dunns River main road in St Ann.

The deceased were 41-year-old Robert Muir, 55-year-old Christopher White, and 42-year-old Kareen Browning, all of Beacon Hill, Thompson Pen in St Catherine.

Reports are that about 8:30 pm on Wednesday, three vehicles were travelling in an easterly direction along the Dunns River main road in St Ann. The driver of a white Range Rover which was proceeding in the opposite direction, reportedly failed to keep left, and collided with all three oncoming vehicles, resulting in the three fatalities.

A 22-month-old infant who was travelling in the Range Rover, was admitted at a medical facility in Kingston. 

Outside of St Ann, six-year-old Jayden Woolery of Sherwood Forest, and his father, 53-year-old David Woolery, a resident of Zion Hill, both neighbouring communities in Portland, died as a result of injuries they sustained in a two-vehicle crash on the Fairy Hill main road in Portland on Easter Monday. 

The man’s daughter, who was also a passenger in the vehicle, was hospitalised.

The father and son duo were among the 10 who died in crashes up to April 3.

In reacting to the developments on the nation’s roadways up to early on Thursday, Jones said: “The National Road Safety Council is deeply concerned and alarmed that despite the gains that we have made as a country, in respect of having a new Road Safety Act and an improved ticketing system, some measure of public education through the media; and other important steps that have been taken to reduce road fatalities in this country; since the beginning of April, 10 people have died on our roads… 

“This is a major disaster and calamity. And the options of rescuing the nation from this kind of carnage are not many,” added Jones.

Further, Jones is calling on the police to rev up traffic enforcement on the roadways, among other measures by stakeholders to curb fatal road crashes.

“The police need to… increase the level of enforcement on our roads. We must receive the kind of resources from both Government and the private sector to carry out sustained and frequent public educational campaigns in this country,” said Jones.

“We should examine what has happened in the last four (three) days carefully. It’s the common theme. Yes, there are issues in terms of fixing the roads, but the common theme is that people are not staying in their lanes, they are driving recklessly, and they are speeding,” he stated.

Jones also called for the examination of the breathalyser programme.

In relation to the situation in St Ann, head of the St Ann police, Senior Superintendent Dwight Powell, said Wednesday’s fatal crash brought the number of road fatalities in the parish since the start of the year to 16. 

The 16 deaths resulted from 11 collisions.

Powell told reporters that the figure was a “significant increase” when compared to the corresponding period last year when there were seven fatalities from seven collisions.

There was another motor vehicle crash along the Runaway Bay main road in St Ann on Friday morning, but while there was no fatality, three persons were left nursing injuries. 

The crash involved a blue tour bus and a white Probox motorcar. 

With the several of road fatalities since the start of the month, social media users are also concerned about the developments, and are calling on the authorities to ramp up their measures to prosecute speeding motorists.

Jamaicans also gave their viewpoints on what could be leading to an apparent spike in road crashes nationally.

“My take on the motor vehicle accidents that (have) been occurring from St Ann to Westmoreland; (1) most of the roads need to (be) remarked with yellow road marking paint, (2) most drivers are getting certified through the backdoor, and (3) since ganja was decriminalised, a lot of drivers smoke ganja and drink rum and boom,” a man wrote on Facebook.

“The Government and the police need to get a handle on it,” he argued.

In response, a woman agreed with those viewpoints. 

“Public passenger drivers smoking weed, drinking strong drinks and driving; a recipe for disaster and we ain’t seen nothing yet,” she commented. 

Added another male Facebook user: “Please Government, put speed bumps in those accident-prone areas; it will save lives”. 

A woman reminded that, “… It’s sad to say, but a car can’t drive itself, so it’s the person behind the wheel that has the responsibility to drive carefully.” 

Said another woman: “The passengers are not learning. It takes just one person to ask the driver to slow down.” 

Meanwhile, a female Facebook user lamented about the several fatal crashes in St Ann in recent times.

“St Ann road blood thirsty! Like this (is) the only road in Jamaica, everyday it’s on the news with sadness added to this parish!” she opined. 

Commented a man: “The road has nothing to do with it. The truth is the backdoor issuance/sale of driver’s licences needs to stop in Jamaica, and I am not telling no lies on anyone.

“Look at it, most of these drivers, females included, don’t know to do simple things like parking! I’ve seen it so many times, so police, Government, everybody need to find who and who involved in selling these driver’s licences,” the man stated.