My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: NRSC record increase in Motorcycle Deaths - Why Road Traffic Act need to license Motorized Bicycles and Electric Bikes

Saturday, October 10, 2015

NRSC record increase in Motorcycle Deaths - Why Road Traffic Act need to license Motorized Bicycles and Electric Bikes

“This is cause for great concern! This concern is compounded by the fact that most of these motorcycle drivers are from the western section of the island, where motorcycle taxis predominate as an accepted form of transportation by the community. Community members have been known to stone policemen who pursue these motorcycle taxi operators, who are operating in contravention of the law.”

Executive Director of the NRSC, Paula Fletcher in a Press Release relating to Road Fatalities in 2015

Fellow Jamaicans there is definitely as need for a law requiring Motor cycles to be licensed like regular vehicles.

This realization comes as the NRSC (National Road and Safety Council) via the PR (Public Relations) Firm has issued a Press Release urging Jamaican to wear their seat belts (motor vehicles) and helmets (motorcycles) as reported in the article “Buckle up and wear helmets appeals the NRSC” published 2015-10-08 by PROComm, Go-Jamaica.  

Executive Director of the NRSC, Paula Fletcher is very passionate about Road safety as noted in the article “Paula Fletcher Grows Into Road Safety Passion”, published Sunday March 8, 2015 by Chad Bryan, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Thus the stats, collected up to the date Wednesday October 7th 2015 and presented in her Press Release, drive home the point of Road Safety:

1.      262 crashes
2.      282 fatalities
3.      237 crashes for the same period in 2014
4.      258 fatalities for the same period in 2014

According to Paula Fletcher, we're heading toward breaking the record as it record for the total number of crashes and resulting road fatalities for the year 2015, quote: “Despite our gains of 2012, Jamaica has already recorded 9% more road fatalities since the start of the year in comparison to 2014. Nine months and 7 days into the year and as at October 7, our nation recorded 262 crashes resulting in 282 fatalities, as opposed to 237 crashes which resulted in 258 fatalities in 2014. This is bad for our country”.

Yes dear reader, this is bad but not surprising to me; Gasoline is now cheaper, now experiencing prices below US$50 per barrel on the International Mercantile markets as predicted in my blog article entitled “US$50 per barrel Oil from OPEC – Why Ford Motors is predicting a bright future for All-Electric Vehicles”. 

So as Jamaican are able to travel more, especially in their Gas-guzzling SUV's, road fatalities are on the rise once more.

Motorcyclists are dying in Jamaica - Why Licensing for Motorcyclists needed

But it's the stats on Motorcyclist that's a bit alarming, which appear to be on the rise:

1.      85 motorcycle drivers died in road crashes
2.      93% increase over 2014
3.      30% increase over 2013

the recent death of a female passenger in a BMW that crashed along Washington Boulevard in St. Andrew while going onto Molynes Road on Sunday, October 4 2015 as reported in the article “Woman dies in BMW accident”, published Sunday, October 04, 2015, The Jamaica Observer also indicates the need motor vehicle drivers to wear their seatbelt.

Most of these road fatalities are un-helmeted Motorcyclists, hence the concern being expressed by Executive Director of the NRSC, Paula Fletcher which was echoed by the Jamaica Gleaner in an editorial “Enforce The Law On Motorcycles”, Published Wednesday March 4, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner

However, getting the number of road fatalities below 240 is a pipe dream, as long as humans drive motor vehicles in Jamaica as expressed by Executive Director of the NRSC, Paula Fletcher, quote: “We need to return to a downward trend in fatalities. Our aim in Jamaica should be to go ‘Below 240’ fatalities as outlined under the national Below 240 Programme for 2013 - 2016. We Jamaicans all have a major role in reducing road crashes, especially in the western section of the island,” 

Stronger Motorcycles Laws needed - Licenses for Motorcyclists being requested by Police

What's really needed is the implementation of Driver's licenses for Motorcyclists.

Currently in Jamaica you can ride a motor cycle with just a learner permit; many Jamaica just get that and never bother to upgrade to a General Driver's License as pointed out in the article “Motorcyclists using Learners Licence indefinitely”, published Tuesday, February 08, 2011 by Alicia Dunkley, The Jamaica Observer

Since February 2015 there has been much said by the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) about the lack of training and proper licensing and the non-use of helmets by motorcyclists as noted in the article “Clampdown on motorcyclists”, Thursday, February 19, 2015 by Alphea Saunders, Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

Motorcycles are slowly becoming a very popular form of transportation in Jamaica. The Road Traffic Act allows any Jamaican to operate a provisional driver's license i.e. Learners in order to operate a motor Vehicle as long as a licensed driver is along for the ride to supervise you while on the road.

Oddly, this provision doesn’t apply to motorcyclists, possible because at the time when the law was written, the lawlords felt it pointless for a pillion rider acting as your instructor to give you instruction while holding on for dear life.

Lads, normally when training persons to ride as motorcycle, the motorcyclists are usually accompanied by a licensed driver on his motorcycle separate and apart for the motorcyclist.

Hence, once can see the impracticality of having a provision in the Road Traffic Act for motorcyclists to have their instructor riding along with them!

Motorcycles need Licensing - Road Traffic Act also needs to address Motorized Bicycles and Electric Bikes

Still, the Motorcyclists are suppose to be licensed, not just riding around using their learners as argued by Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Morais Guy in the article “Motorcycle licence clampdown a good move”, published Friday, February 20, 2015, The Jamaica Observer

Even St Elizabeth Police Division Superintendent of Police Lanford Salmon wants the Road Traffic Act to be changed to force motorcyclists to be licensed in order to ride as reported in the article “Senior cop wants law review to curb motorcycle deaths”, published Thursday, August 13, 2015 , The Jamaica Observer.

An alarming number of accidents are occurring prompted St Elizabeth Police Division Superintendent of Police Lanford Salmon to recommend the Canadian model of having Jamaican also be tested and licensed before they can ride a motor cycle, quote: “The present system can’t work. We need to move away from the situation where a man can just buy a Learner’s (Licence) and ride a motorcycle”.

I personally support this as well as the licensing of Motorized bicycles and Electric Motorcycles, a popular trend back in November 2014 as both are powered by a motor and as such need to be licensed as argued in my blog article entitled “Electric Bicycles and Motorcycles next Big Jamaican trend by Christmas 2014 - How Backtracker and Rear View Cameras in the Road Traffic Act can help”.  

It's becoming fairly easy for anyone to purchase a kit and convert their motorcycle into an Electric Bicycle as noted in my blog article entitled “How to convert your Bicycle to an Electric Bicycle – Pedal Power is an amazing resource”.

The Chinese merchants already sell Electric Motorcycle, many of which are already popular in the Swallowfield community. But there is no clear law governing them as well. Also, these motorized bikes make no sound; the Road Traffic Act will have to be change to address this.

They can easily cause accident involving pedestrians from behind as they make little or no noise or sounds typically associated with a lawnmower. 

Now that the ITA (Island Traffic Authority) has started charging for its services since November 2014 as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Island Traffic Authority Charging for Services - Road Traffic Act Backs ITA as HD CCTV Cameras, Rear-View Cameras, JDF, JCF Special License Plates Coming” they can soon begin to address this, once the law is changed.

Hopefully this’ll mean mandatory rear-cameras and Police vehicles licensed, as well as operators of Motorcycles, both gasoline and Electric and Motorized Bicycles, being required to have a license to operate.

No comments: