The National Road Safety Council is reporting that Jamaica recorded a 20% reduction in road fatalities islandwide compared to the corresponding period in 2019 due, in part, to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council says this is an unexpected yet welcome result.
The government has imposed several measures including nightly curfews and limiting social gatherings as part of efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.
Jamaica recorded its first case on March 10.
Up to May 28 this year, there have been 155 road deaths, compared to 194 recording during the corresponding period in 2019.
The council says there has been a marked reduction in road crashes leading to 39 fewer fatalities, and identified the road user categories that contributed to the fall in the fatality rate as pedestrians and motorcyclists, which it says saw a 28% and 27% drop respectively.
In 2020, pedestrian fatalities total 33 compared to 46 recorded during the corresponding period, while there have been 48 motorcyclist deaths so far this.
For the similar period in 2019, the figure was 61.
Other categories namely, pedal cyclists, private motor car passengers and drivers experienced a 42%, 34% and 33% decline respectively.
The council highlights that there has been a marked reduction in road crashes leading to 39 fewer fatalities, and the road user categories that contribute greatly to the fatality rate, pedestrians and motorcyclists, saw a 28% and 27% drop respectively.
Other categories namely, pedal cyclists, private motorcar passengers and drivers, experienced a 42%, 34% and 33% decline respectively.
The council projects that Jamaica will have fewer fatalities this year due to reduced road traffic as schools have closed and that several offices have staff working from home or have limited staff attendance at work.
In addition, several establishments have been closed, including churches, bars, and major sporting and entertainment events have been cancelled.
As Jamaica grapples with how to deal with the pandemic, a gradual relaxation of the orders has begun to take place and road traffic is expected to increase, the council is contending.
Dr Lucien Jones, vice chairman of the council, cautions that “current reductions in injuries and fatalities are artificial, so we cannot rest on our laurels as there is still much work to be done to deal with the post-COVID-19 period.”
“The slowing of the legislative pace during the last three months has had a commensurate effect on the full activation of the already passed Road Traffic Act (RTA) of December 2018. So, the question is will 2020 close without us having an operationalised RTA?” Jones added.
For her part, Paula Fletcher, the council’s executive director, called for urgency to “complete the formulation of the new Road Traffic Regulations so that the many best practises outlined will be available for the fight for safer roads.”
She adds that the council is proceeding nonetheless with work in the area of strategies to reduce motorcycle and pedestrian injuries and deaths.
Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.