‘Absolute tragedy’

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — People arriving on the scene of Friday morning’s two-vehicle crash, which claimed three lives and left 13 people injured, quickly came to the conclusion that speeding was a central factor.

Such was the impact of the crash that the registration plate of one vehicle was seen pasted onto the other.

Up to late Friday police had confirmed that two men and a woman who had been travelling in a taxi succumbed to injuries they sustained in the crash. Ten people were admitted at hospital and three others treated and released.

Police report that about 11:00 am the taxi, a Toyota Wish motor car, was travelling up Melrose Hill bypass towards Mandeville when a collision occurred with a Hyundai H1 minibus going in the opposite direction.

A reliable source told the Jamaica Observer that the minibus was transporting workers of a company contracted to do blasting on the US$188-million May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000. The workers were reportedly conducting a post-blast survey in the area.

In May, traffic changes were made to the Melrose Hill Bypass, which is being incorporated into the highway project, to accommodate only westbound traffic. Eastbound traffic was diverted to the Old Melrose Hill Road.

Member of Parliament for Manchester Central Rhoda Crawford and vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council Dr Lucien Jones both agreed that too many lives have been lost on the nation’s roads.

“Absolute tragedy is best to describe what took place… I want to use this opportunity to appeal to motorists to observe the road safety protocols. Just yesterday [Thursday], while I was travelling on that very same corridor, I witnessed two motor vehicles speeding and overtaking around a blind corner,” Crawford said.

“We have lost too many lives — more than 300 since the start of the year to road accidents — and I am very worried as we approach the festive season. We have to be more responsible users of our nation’s roads,” she added.

Dr Jones said the country has recorded 390 road fatalities since the start of the year following at least two fatal crashes in Manchester and Westmoreland on Friday.

“When you have five road fatalities in less than 24 hours it means that we have a crisis on our hands. Far too many people are dying on our roads. This means that 390 people have died on our roads up until this morning, which is just one less than the number for [the corresponding period] last year,” he said.

“Last year 487 people died… because of the chaos and the madness on our roads. We have just got to stop speeding on the roads. We don’t have many levers to pull. The main lever we have to pull is an efficient ticketing system. We have been talking about this for years now,” added Dr Jones.

He is eagerly awaiting the implementation of an efficient traffic ticket system and the new Road Traffic Act.

“It would appear, based on information received, that we are heading towards a conclusion of this matter that we will soon have a robust ticketing system. It can’t come too quickly. Many people have died because of a lack of this important system in our country,” he said.

Arguing that the roll-out of the provisions of the new Road Traffic Act is taking too long, Dr Jones said, “We have to get into the habit of moving quickly on important issues in this country, otherwise we are going to continue to see people dying on our roads like this. It does not have to happen… We have to find a way to stop them from speeding.”

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