Road laws face low enforcement
Despite having laws guarding against five major road safety risk factors under the Road Traffic Act, stakeholders are lamenting the low enforcement recorded in Jamaica.
Speaking at the Caribbean Road Safety Workshop on Friday, Regional Adviser on Road Safety Eugenia Rodrigues told the gathering of representatives from the region that the problem of enforcement exists across the Caribbean. She added that the region accounts for 11 per cent of global road traffic deaths. Jamaica’s highest level of enforcement was four out of 10 for speed limits, while driving under the influence, helmet use, seatbelts, and use of car seats were two and three.
Director of the Road Safety Unit Kenute Hare, who was in attendance, said the figures are unacceptable.
“It highlights the need for there to be significant inputs in road-safety enforcement to ensure that drivers and persons [who] operate on the road network are reined in so that they feel the full brunt of the law,” he told The Gleaner.
Rodrigues also highlighted the need for a multisectoral approach to road safety that would include the health and transport sectors, the police, civil society and non-governmental organisations.
Hare added that issuing tickets does not equate to full enforcement.
“We continue to see persons traversing the network with hundreds of outstanding tickets ... . The traffic-enforcement component of the police needs help!” Hare exclaimed.
The Road Safety Unit continues, to educate the public through campaigns, but the director noted that a shift in attitude is needed.
“We live in an era where there is a high tolerance of motor vehicle deaths. We view a motor vehicle death as ‘a likkle death’, so if it’s a shooting, shooting gets more attention,” Hare said.
Brent Batson, from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, said that road safety is behaviour based and it requires a change in what has become socially acceptable.
He also noted that Caribbean islands must be stringent in how the law is enforced and that no one should be excluded.
Batson made reference to a government minister who was fined for failing to do a breathalyser test and whose image was later placed in the newspaper.
Hare used the opportunity to appeal to Jamaicans.
“It’s one thing with the police not enforcing how we want them to enforce, but as a people, we need to not want the police over our back s for us to do the right thing. We need to shape up as a people and desist from bad behaviour,” he said.