Focus on traffic management systems


Focus on traffic management systems

Observer senior reporter

Friday, August 07, 2020

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IN a recent address to the gasoline retailers, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams called for society to view road traffic deaths as a global pandemic just like the novel coronavirus .

“As a country, we lose upwards of 300 Jamaicans per year due to road accidents,” Williams said, as she addressed the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers' Association's virtual Road Safety Launch in Kingston.

She cited data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showing that more than 1.35 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. She also noted that half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

In the meantime, the Government said it plans to spend some US$1 million, or approximately $145 million this year, to upgrade the country's road traffic signal system in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) during 2020/21.

The project, which falls under the Urban Traffic Management System (UTMS), a component of the Energy Management and Efficiency Programme, is being implemented in collaboration with the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), the National Works Agency (NWA) and the Ministry of Transport and Mining.

It is expected to synchronise traffic lights across the KMA and will include: a centrally controlled intelligent transportation system; integration platform for traffic monitoring, operation, planning and modelling; as well as traffic controllers, detectors and other equipment to provide real-time traffic counts and patterns.

In addition, training will be provided for NWA employees who will be involved in the operation and maintenance of the system.

“We will be installing critical infrastructure, such as traffic safety cameras, traffic signal battery backup system (UPS), variable message sign, traffic signal controller cabinets and fibre-optic cable,” Williams told Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

According to the recently tabled Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ), produced by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), a total of $166 million is to be used for the entire traffic management and control activities programme.

The whole UTMS project, which is expected to cost some US$3.5 million, will be operated and maintained by the NWA and consists of:

(1) A centrally controlled integrated platform for traffic monitoring, operation, planning and modelling;

(2) Upgraded traffic controllers, closed-circuit television cameras, detectors and communications switches at intersections to provide real-time traffic controls and patterns; and

(3) Training and coaching of NWA staff for planning, operation and maintenance.

The ESSJ said, however, that in the meantime there are consistent challenges in road safety resulting in the execution of additional measures and activities to enhance the safety of the population. Efforts are also being made to implement critical components of the National Road Safety Policy (2004).

Other activities being pursued include:

• A road safety education programme involving 100 primary schools islandwide;

• A road safety campaign built around “Mr Death”, which is a television and social media broadcast addressing issues relating to pedestrian safety, especially as it relates to wearing dark-coloured clothing and excessive speeding as well as motorcycle safety; Road Safety Motorcycle Outreach triggered by the high incidence of motorcycle fatalities which has started in Manchester and Trelawny and is expected to be extended to include Hanover, Westmoreland and St Elizabeth; and

• A joint on-the-road activity in which ministry staff will work alongside the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) road traffic departments in St James, St Ann and Westmoreland at checkpoints, to provide motorists and passengers with critical road safety information.

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