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Orthopaedic surgeon supports formal training of motorcyclists

Sunday, March 31, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Orthopaedic Surgeon at the St Ann's Bay Hospital, Dr Cary Fletcher, supports the provision in the new Road Traffic Act for formal training of motorcyclists in Jamaica.

Dr Fletcher was speaking at a recent JIS 'Think Tank', against the background of a study conducted by the hospital's orthopaedic team entitled, Motorcycle Injuries Seen at the St Ann's Bay Regional Hospital.

He explained that the study, which was conducted during the period March 2016 to June 2018, looked at all of the patients seen in the hospital's emergency department who had suffered an injury as a result of a motorcycle accident.

According to Dr Fletcher, the hospital saw patients from St Ann, St Mary, Portland, Trelawny, Clarendon and St James. They were given a questionnaire that looked at various socio-demographic data, including age, occupation and gender.

They also assessed those under the influence of alcohol and those who had smoked cigarettes and/or marijuana.

“We also looked at the incidence of helmet compliance, and in terms of road worthiness we looked at the incidence of them possessing a motor bike licence and insurance and whether they were formally trained,” Dr Fletcher said.

The team is recommending formal training for all motorbike riders in Jamaica, because the study points to this as a major problem.

“We found that loss of control and poor judgement when executing an overtaking manoeuvre accounted for 80 per cent of the injuries seen in the study, which means 80 per cent were preventable. Had they been formally trained, they would have likely not had these injuries,” he said.

Dr Fletcher bemoaned the fact that just three of the 143 bike riders seen in the study had been formally trained.

He pointed out that of the three, one was a Canadian tourist who had been trained in Canada, the second was a policeman who had been trained on the job and the third was involved in racing.

“Generally, our riders are not trained and from those studied 70 per cent of them had no licence and 68 per cent had no insurance and when we take into account that about 20 of the riders didn't know if the bike was licensed or insured, because they didn't own the bike, those percentages are possibly higher than the figures quoted,” he noted.

According to Dr Fletcher, the study is the only one in the Western Hemisphere that looks solely at motorbike accidents.

The 155 participants (153 males and two females) ranged in age from 14 to 64 years and there were 143 drivers and 12 pillion riders.

The study, which was conducted by Dr Fletcher and Dr Derrick McDowell of the hospital's Orthopaedic Department, was awarded the Most Impactful Oral Presentation at the Ninth Annual National Health Research Conference, which took place from November 22 to 23, 2018.

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