Public Works and Transport Ministry Heightens its Campaign promoting Road Safety

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Minister for Public Works and Transport the Hon Neko C Grant is pictured behind the wheel of a Driving Simulator during the graduation exercise for 11 students that participated in the Safe Driving Simulator Program. Several of the students and organizers are pictured looking on. Also pictured at right is the Member of Parliament for Pineridge and Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, Quasi Thompson, and the Member of Parliament for the Eight Mile Rock Constituency, Verna Grant.

Freeport, Grand Bahama – Minister for Public Works and Transport the Hon Neko C Grant said Thursday that his Ministry has heightened its campaign promoting road safety The Bahamas.

Mr Grant’s comments came during the inaugural graduation ceremony for the Safe Driving Simulator Program, an initiative of the Grand Bahama Port Authority and PharmaChem Technologies.

Eleven senior high school students from Sir Jack Hayward High School, St Georges High and Eight Mile Rock High School participated in the initial program, which also had the cooperation of the Road Traffic Department and the Ministry of Education.

Mr Grant said the Road Traffic Department will continue to partner with others in advancing public education programs to promote road safety.

“It allows our message of road safety to reach many more individuals,” he said.”  “It allows us to gain greater insight into the context in which motor vehicle collisions occur, thereby allowing us to target our efforts from public education to road network design with greater precision, and it contributes to the overall effectiveness and sustainability of the various programs that are implemented.”

He noted that during the past year, particular emphasis has been placed on increasing awareness of the Highway Code.

“We have also continued to remind the public of risks to safe driving that includes failure to use seat belts and car seats, excessive speed, impairment as a result alcohol consumption, and distraction as a result of cellular phone use.

“It is against this background that we welcome this program that assists students at this early age in acquiring the skills to make good decisions regarding road use before their first encounter on the streets as licensed driver.”

Mr Grant said the program also complements the efforts of the Road Traffic Department of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in the promotion of road safety and prevention of traffic related injuries and death

He told graduates that after completing the Safe Driving Simulator Program, they would soon be of the verge of achieving another of many milestones in their life, a Driver’s License, after practical instructions and examination.

“I would remind you that along with a Driver’s License comes much responsibility. It is therefore my hope that as graduates of this course and as future motor vehicle drivers, you will always remember to apply the lessons learnt in your travel on our streets and highways.

“Furthermore, it is my hope that as graduates of this course, that you will share your knowledge with friends and family members bearing in mind that it is only through a united effort that we will reduce the number of road traffic related injuries and deaths in The Bahamas,” he said.

The issue of young persons and road safety is widely discussed at the national and international level, Mr Grant explained.  “This is due to the prevalence of road traffic injuries and death in this age group.”

Mr Grant said the World Health Organization lists road traffic injuries as the leading cause of death globally among persons 15 to 19 years old, and it also lists injuries as the second leading cause of death globally among persons 10 to 14 years old and 20 to 24 years old.

In The Bahamas from a general perspective, road traffic injuries and road traffic deaths remain a source of concern for the country, he said.

Within the last two years, young persons under 26 have accounted for 50 per cent of all road traffic deaths.

Further statistics reveal that during 2008, 45 traffic fatalities took place of which 22 were person 0 to 25-years-old, Mr Grant said.

During the past year, some 56 traffic fatalities were recorded and 29 of those involved persons 0 to 25 years old.

The Minister thanked Pietro Stefanutti, President of PharmaChem Technologies for initiating the project and the Grand Bahama Port Authority for its support.

Mr Stefanutti’s son was killed in a traffic accident a few years ago and he wanted to do something in memory of his son.