I am delighted to participate in this church service to mark the start of Road Safety Awareness Month, aimed at reducing road traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities.  I commend the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association for your commitment to the promotion of road safety awareness over the past thirty years. True to your motto, “In Service, We Serve”, you embrace not only your members, but also your customers and the wider community.  It was through your advocacy that the annual observance of June as Road Safety Awareness Month became a reality. Your efforts also facilitated the success of the National Road Safety Council’s 2012 initiative for a reduction in the number of deaths from road crashes to below 300.

Jamaica is proud of the international recognition which we received when His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, Royal Patron of the Commission for Global Road Safety, bestowed on the NRSC the ‘Prince Michael International Road Safety Award’ in April 2013 for exceptional achievement in the promotion of responsible road use.  I applaud this achievement and congratulate all who faithfully collaborated for the attainment of the 2012 objectives.

This year the aim is for fewer than 240 road traffic fatalities.  However, statistics as at May 13, reveal that already 99 persons have died in road accidents compared to 91 for the same period last year.   We have to redouble our efforts if we are going to achieve the 240 target for this year. This is a stark reminder that road safety must become everybody’s business. Achieving the 240 target cannot be the sole responsibility of the NRSC, the JGRA, there is a role for the Church, schools, service clubs and community organizations which can foster road safety awareness through their community connections and outreach programmes, to our youth in particular. This is a mutual concern for all Jamaicans.

In addition to the cost in human lives, road crashes in Jamaica cost the country an estimated $10 Billion in hospital care, rehabilitation, insurance and other related expenses.  This estimate does not include the long- term care for persons who become disabled, lost production time or loss of income, and we cannot quantify the cost of unrealized hopes and dreams and the potential contributions of those killed in, or incapacitated by road accidents, nor can we quantify the emotional trauma which surviving victims or bereaved families endure from road accidents.  We should also bear in mind the negative impact on our development agenda, of the loss of precious human resources and the diversion of limited material resources to recovery and rehabilitation.  It is a tremendous strain on all of us which we cannot ignore.

So here we are at the start of Road Safety Awareness Month we pray for God’s divine mercy and protection; for the safety of our people on the road and that the education programme will reap benefit.  We also ask that He comfort those families and individuals who have suffered as a result of motor vehicle crashes.

I encourage you, members of the JGRA, to continue serving Jamaica in this area of great need and hope that your efforts will succeed in making road safety the business of every Jamaican.

May God bless you all!