Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Mark Golding have both urged Jamaicans and other nationalities in their Christmas messages to, among other things, exercise caution on the road considering the many fatalities that have been recorded on thoroughfares so far this year.
“As believers in the salvation of Christ, we appeal to the killers, the robbers, extortionists, and the scammers, to heed the message of the season and the example of Christ, turn from your destructive ways, and celebrate life instead of taking life,” Holness stated.
He said while some Jamaicans strive to bestow gifts and other material symbols of the season on their loved ones, some are unwilling to acquire these material symbols through unlawful means. “Some are planning to rob, and kill, taking the lives other, just to be able to ‘floss’ at the popular parties of the seasonâ€¦the message of peace, goodwill and the celebration of life means nothing to those with criminal intent, they have hardened their hearts,” he lamented, noting that last year December 127 Jamaicans perished in violent incidents.
He also used the occasion to urge Jamaicans to desist from reckless driving: “Drunk driving and speeding are significant contributors to road fatalities during this season. Last year, 487 persons lost their lives to road traffic incidents. No more of our brothers and sisters should die on our roads during this season.”
Statistics from the Road Safety Unit (NRSU) show that up to December 25, there were 470 deaths in 409 fatal collisions. This is on par in terms of percentages with the number of deaths for the similar period last year. The NRSU is projecting 482 such deaths, by the end of 2022.
“Crashes are preventable, it depends on our mindset and behaviour; so let us act with greater care. Don’t drink and drive, follow the rules of the road, wear your helmets, drive within the limits, drive defensively, drive according to the condition of the road, and slow down! As we celebrate life this Christmas, let us all commit to being extra careful as road users. Please I urge you, take it easy on the road, slow down and live to celebrate your life,” the prime minister implored.
Golding stressed that, “as you indulge in the season’s festivities, I encourage you to do so with caution. In particular, road fatalities are running at an alarming rate in our country, so please proceed with care on the road.”