Deadly SaturdaysFriday, July 09, 2021
BY KEDIESHA PERRY
Deidre Hudson-Sinclair, acting director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, says the frantic shopping hours on Saturdays could be the reason why most road fatalities have occurred on that day.
“This is purely anecdotal because I haven't done any official survey to see why this is the case but, during the initial stages of the pandemic, Saturday was when people were pressed to go where they needed to go and because of curfew hours there was a limited time to get things done on the road. In that same rushing, many people were probably trying to avoid the police, but an official study would have to be done to see why this has been so,” she told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.
According to the Ministry of Transport and Mining's Daily Traffic Crash Update, since the start of the year, there have been 43 fatal crashes and 46 fatalities on a Saturday.
The report also said a total of 245 people have been killed in 221 fatal crashes since the start of the year. Fatal crashes and fatalities have increased by 19 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, when compared with similar period in 2020.
In an effort to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Andrew Holness implemented several measures, including an islandwide curfew. In May, the curfew on Saturdays began at 6:00 pm, while on Sundays it was 2:00 pm. For the rest of the week, it started at 8:00 pm. All curfews ended at 5:00 am the following day.
Currently, the curfew begins at 11:00 pm on Mondays to Saturdays, and 6:00 pm on Sundays.
Meanwhile, motorcyclists account for 36 per cent of road users killed since the start of the year, while pedestrians make up 19 per cent of the tally. Hudson-Sinclair explained the reason behind this.
“We have to recognise that we have a history of motorcyclists who ride on their learner's (licence), and there are not a lot of formal schools to teach people how to operate motorcycles. In many cases, people learn from their friends so fatalities among motorcyclists have surpassed pedestrians, which was leading in figures. We find that it's also difficult to police them in rural and urban areas,” she said.
“People are relying on delivery services more and more because of the pandemic, and as I said, it's so easy to get one because they're cost effective and can be operated with a learner's,” she said.
“Another issue is that there is no discipline or patience on the road. You find that people are more aggressive because of pandemic conditions (on mental health) and there is infrastructural work to be done on the roads,” Hudson-Sinclair continued.
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