The Road Safety Unit (RSU) and the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) are actively engaging high-school students for the development of defensive driving skills and knowledge of the road code.
This initiative, dubbed the Road Safety Education in Schools Programme, is one of several measures being used to make the roadways safter for both motorists and pedestrians.
Director of the RSU, Deidre Hudson-Sinclair, told JIS News that the students who participate in the programme get a “full understanding” of the road code and how to drive safely, as the Ministry of Transport and Mining and its agencies are very concerned with many of the unsafe practices of some male drivers between 19 and 25 years of age.
“A lot of young men are at risk, so we recognise the importance of starting early,” she said, adding that schools wishing to be on the programme can contact the agencies at [email protected] and [email protected].
Mrs. Hudson-Sinclair said they want the students to learn the code, do the test and get involved in the programme.
“It is the aim of the RSU and the ITA to have a change in the culture, a positive driving culture, and it is part of a larger mechanism to get a new generation of drivers having critical skills, helping to avoid crashes and recognising that we have to drive for ourselves and the other persons on the road,” she added.
As part of the programme, the agencies, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have developed the Jamaica Adolescent Learner Driver Curriculum, which seeks to impart safe driving among the young population and to decrease the level of risk taking that is popular among them and which has accounted for many fatalities on the roads.
Under the new Road Traffic Act, persons seeking to obtain a provisional driver’s licence (learner’s permit), must take a road code test before it is granted, and within six months, they must successfully complete another test to obtain the driver’s licence.
Mrs. Hudson-Sinclair said the crashes on the roads can be avoided, as speed is a major factor, and drivers must consider the lives of others while they are in control of the vehicles.
She also called on pedal cyclists and pedestrians to be more visible at nights (by wearing bright coloured clothes), and persons should exercise more care when they are crossing the roads.