Youth network established to promote road safety 

NATIONAL initiatives to reduce road fatalities have been given a fillip through the recently established Jamaica Caribbean (JAMCARIB) Youth Network for Road Safety.

A project of the Transport Operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS), the group is seeking to engage some 5,000 young people in Jamaica and across the Caribbean in designing, developing, and implementing programmes and projects aimed at promoting road safety.

With young people being the main offenders and victims of road crashes, they have a major stake in ensuring more responsible use of the nation’s roadways.

Statistics from the Road Safety Unit (RSU) indicate that 170 children and youth under the age of 29 were killed in 145 road crashes in Jamaica in 2022, with 84 per cent of the victims being males and 16 per cent females.

By bringing young people together, with fresh ideas, JAMCARIB hope is to come up with programmes and strategies to inspire positive behaviour change.

President of JAMCARIB Danielle Thomas told JIS News that the group, which recently had its inaugural meeting recently at the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica campus in St Andrew, intends to undertake a comprehensive sensitisation campaign that includes the use of social media.

“The power of a social media campaign can do a lot for Jamaica and to achieve behavioural change. We need to have an engaging year-long social media campaign that will definitely promote road safety through different messages and an inclusive approach, incorporating everyone,” she says.

Another major initiative is the establishment of campus caucuses at colleges, high schools and among sixth-formers, where members will take the road safety message to their peers.
A platform will also be established by the group for interested persons to make reports, provide answers to questions and to address issues that will add value to the campaign.

President of TODSS Egerton Newman says the vision in establishing JAMCARIB is to achieve “major and drastic” reduction in road crashes, noting that the current trend cannot be allowed to continue.

“This year, we must reduce fatal crashes,” he said, expressing confidence that with youth at the centre of the process of change the objective will be achieved.

Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw, in welcoming the new road-safety advocates, said the mayhem on the roads can only be stopped through discipline and change in behaviour.

“Road safety requires a comprehensive combined approach from every Jamaican to ensure that lives are not lost. We must remember that the faster we drive motor vehicles, the longer they will take to stop and the greater the impact of the collision,” he points out.

He said that children and youth must be equipped to be catalysts of change in ensuring their own safety and that of their peers.

“This Youth Network for Road Safety, which aims to provide a safe environment for our young people, is welcomed as we continue the discussion surrounding road safety. The Ministry of Transport and Mining continues to educate our youth population on the importance of road safety as part of road-safety education in schools,” said Shaw.