As the busy Christmas season approaches, state minister for transport and mining, JC Hutchinson, has implored road safety advocates in the public and private sectors to be rigorous in their efforts to educate people about safe driving practices.
He also called for greater personal responsibility to improve safety in the traffic environment.
“Responsibility is the key to achieving road safety in Jamaica; this includes the mindful use of motor vehicles and motorcycles while commuting. A part of this includes the decision not to drive after consuming alcohol. The transport and mining ministry is serious about addressing the indiscipline in the traffic environment and eliminating the behaviour that puts drivers and others at risk,” said the minister as he delivered the keynote address at Red Stripe’s recent ‘Responsibility Now!’ Town Hall on responsible alcohol consumption and road safety.
The event, jointly hosted by Red Stripe and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), on November 9, is the second in Red Stripe’s ‘Responsibility Now’ series of town halls to explore the role of different sectors in developing a whole-of-society approach to building a culture of responsible consumption.
Describing the town hall as timely and useful, Hutchinson said continued collaboration was the way to go. “There is no illusion about our mammoth task, and it absolutely cannot be done alone. By consistently doing the responsible thing, we can eventually get to a point where we can achieve zero road crashes and fatalities. I commend Red Stripe for creating a forum to discuss this, especially as we look towards the holiday period. Their continued effort to push the message of moderation, responsible use of alcohol, and road safety is applaudable.”
Hutchinson was one of several stakeholders participating in the town hall, which featured riveting discussions from a multi-sectoral panel. Speakers included PSOJ Vice-President Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee; head of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Public Safety & Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB), ACP Gary McKenzie; director of the Island Traffic Authority, Kenute Hare; Dream Entertainment Director PJ Wright and vice-president of the Jamaica Association Transport Owners & Operation, Everton Style.
While acknowledging that drunk driving isn’t the leading cause of road crashes in Jamaica, Red Stripe’s head of corporate affairs Dianne Ashton-Smith said creating awareness around the dangers of drunk driving was an important priority. “We have been the leaders in advocating for responsible consumption, and we also acknowledge that we have to be responsible in communicating and selling our products. The call to greater responsibility comes in threefolds; ensuring that consumers always have a choice, ensuring that we are addressing head-on the harmful use of alcohol, and promoting moderation. In this regard, we have been working to ensure that our non-alcohol beer is always available to consumers so they have options.”
She further noted, “With the Responsibility Now series, we continue the productive dialogue to reduce alcohol misuse and build the culture of safety among our consumers that will lead to accelerated actions to achieve our shared goals. These efforts allow us to scale our positive contribution to society and limit our negative impact.”
The event’s open panel discussion, moderated by Debbie Bissoon, explored how public, private sectors, and transport stakeholders can contribute to promoting road safety among motorists. The solutions discussed included the soon-to-be-implemented revised Road Traffic Act, fines and stricter penalties, and increased efforts by the promoters and the JCF to reduce the instance of drink driving after events by patrons.
As a tangible show of support to the JCF’s work to enforce road safety, Red Stripe’s philanthropic arm, the Desnoes and Geddes (D&G) Foundation, donated 50 breathalysers to the JCF’s PSTEB. The donation is valued at over $3 million.