Nassau, The Bahamas – Public Works and Transport Minister the Hon. Neko C. Grant raised the awareness of road safety among young people during the 5th annual National Road Safety Youth Symposium on September 30.
“It is timely as it is during this early stage in their lives they are learning many new concepts and developing habits,” Minister Grant said. “We are also aware that our country’s future economic growth is contingent upon our youth attaining healthy adulthood thereby allowing them to make a meaningful contribution.”
Mr. Grant said it is “imperative” that the present time be used to save lives and prevent injuries by instructing young people on the safe use of the streets.
The symposium was organised by the Road Traffic Department; the Ministry of Works; and Chevron Bahamas Limited and held under the theme “Decade of Action for Road Safety”. Participants included government, private and Family Island high school students. The following topics were addressed throughout the day: Causes of Crashes and Preventative Measures, Motorcycle Safety, and Injuries Related to Traffic Crashes. Presentors were Sgt. Garlon Rolle of the Traffic Division; Daniel Williams, Cedric Cash, emergency medical technician and Jerome Rolle.
In attendance was Phillip Turner, road traffic controller, Albie Hope, transportation specialist, Michael Hudson, road safety coordinator, Ryan Bain, district sales manager of Chevron Bahamas and Valtio Cooper, Texaco youth spokesperson.
Mr. Grant said safer use of streets by young people is a major concern for The Bahamas in light of statistics which reveal that young persons under the age of 26 accounted for 50 per cent of all road traffic deaths within the last two years.
Other statistics revealed by Mr. Grant indicate that 45 fatalities were recorded during 2008 of which 22 were persons up to 25 years old. Furthermore, 56 traffic fatalities were recorded in 2009 of which 29 were persons up to 25 years old.
“This is a most undesirable trend, and its reversal remains a priority of the Government,” said Mr. Grant. “It is to be noted, however, that this trend is not unique to The Bahamas as focus on this issue continues to gain momentum internationally.”
Mr. Grant explained that the World Health Organisation’s 2007 Report on Youth and Road Safety listed road traffic injuries as the leading cause of death globally among 15 to 19 years old and the second leading cause of death among persons 10 to 14 years old and 20 to 24 years old.
In an effort to reduce the number of road traffic related injuries and deaths globally Mr. Grant said the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 2011 to 2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The resolution calls for development of a Plan of Action for the decade and UN member states have been encouraged to set national road traffic casualty reduction targets to be achieved by the end of 2020.
“As a member of the UN, we therefore welcome the additional opportunities that will be presented through this Decade of Action for Road Safety. During the 10-year period, we will further advance efforts to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities in The Bahamas,” Mr. Grant said.
He reflected on initiatives implemented locally during the past year that play a significant role in the education of young persons on safer use of the streets. They include the re-launch of the Safe Driving Simulator Programme, the development of the new Highway Code and the introduction of the Drivers Manual.
Mr. Grant acknowledged and thanked Chevron Bahamas Limited, the Road Traffic Department, the National Road Safety Committee and other Government agencies that have partnered with his Ministry to host the symposium.
By Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services