Insurer Appeals for Safe Use of Roads
Chris Hind, general manager of JN General Insurance Company (JNGI), maintains that many motor vehicle crashes and the loss of lives could have been easily averted, if motorists and motorcyclists observed the designated speed limits.
Speaking against the background of the more than 400 road fatalities since the start of the year, Mr Hind expressed concern that the number of fatalities could increase during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. This has prompted the insurance company to embark on a “Just Slow Down,” initiative, aimed at senitising motorists and motorcyclists about the danger of speeding.
“Speed is one of the major contributors to road accidents. The greater the speed, the greater the risk of fatalities and serious injuries. It’s much harder to control a vehicle being driven at high speed, especially when one has to brake suddenly,” Mr Hind said, noting that, “The problem is further compounded when drivers consume excessive quantities of alcohol, which is typical at this time of year. And, insurance industry data shows that less experienced road users are at greater risk of causing crashes.”
Statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force at December 23, revealed that Westmoreland registered 57 fatalities, the highest among all parishes. Completing the top three parishes with the highest fatalities are St Catherine and St Andrew with 57 and 45 respectively. Overall, 134 motorcyclists were killed, which accounts for one third of all road fatalities.
In total 408 persons have been killed in crashes so far this year, 22 fewer than in 2019.
“Most of the crashes involved motorcyclists in Westmoreland, a parish known for the illegal operation of bike taxis,” Hind pointed out.
The insurer highlighted that motorcyclists are more vulnerable to accidents than other categories of road users.
“Unlike motorists, motorcylists do not have the protection of seatbelts, airbags or even the frame of the vehicle to shield them from direct impact during a crash. Therefore, even as they observe safety practices while using the road, they still run the risk of getting hit off their motorcycles, especially by motorists who are turning. The impact of the accident, along with the fall, and further being hit by their own motorcycle during the fall, increases the chances of a fatal accident,” he explained.
“On the other hand, they are motorcyclists who continue to ignore the need to wear helmets and other protective gear, which could significantly reduce serious injuries and possibly deaths.”
Hind emphasised that all road users need to make a conscious and concerted effort to exercise greater responsiblilty on the road, not only for themselves, but also for the sake of their loved ones and the safety of others.
“Reckless driving and poor judgement have left many families in grief. Furthermore, some victims are left with life-altering injuries often affecting their ability to work and lead a normal life. Road traffic accidents also put a great demand on our health care system. When you look at the repercussions, you can’t help but wonder if the senseless action was really worth it,” Hind reasoned.
He urges motorcyclists to reduce their speed, always wear a helmet and to ensure that their pillion riders are likewise protected. He further advised that motorcyclists should have reflectors on their bike or helmet, so that they can be easily seen at nights; exercise caution when approaching intersections; and reduce speed, as well as avoid criss crossing lanes.
Over the years, the insurance company, has initiated several road safety programmes.
Working with the Mona Geoinformatics, the company developed a fatal crash map, accessible on its website at www.jngijamaica.com. Warning signs have also been errected at 25 crash hotspots across the country, highlighting where motorists are most at risk. Among the most prevalent danger areas are the North Coast Highway, Highway 2000 and Mandela Highway.