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OVERLOADING OF VEHICLES - THE DANGERS

  • Impedes the driver’s ability to control and manoeuvre the vehicle as the driver’s operating space is reduced. This is why many drivers, especially with passengers, are seen driving with their hands hanging outside of the vehicles.
  • With overloading, seat belts are often not used as the aim is to pack in as many persons as possible into the vehicle as you would sardines in a tin.
  • With overloading, if the collision is to the front end, the pressure on the occupants is from the front and the back. This is because:
    . The front is crushed in sending pressure to the centre.
    . Pressure from the back is created when the passengers in the back are thrown forward.
    Occupants end up crushing each other.
  • Traction of tyres is reduced due to the weight in the car. This results in a ‘washing’ movement which makes the car unstable at high speeds.
  • Brakes have to work harder due to ‘the riding of brakes’ and because the car is heavier due to overloading. Brakes overheat and lose their effectiveness to stop the car.
  • The whole suspension system comes under stress and, over time, the weakest point can give way.
  • The engine also comes under stress when the vehicle is overloaded, therefore:
    . More power is needed to overtake.
    . It takes longer to overtake and if one’s judgment is poor, a collision can result if there is an oncoming vehicle.





 

SIGN OF THE TIMES

How a ground-breaking scheme 'Walk Good with MoneyGram' is helping to reduce road deaths in Jamaica.

The pain and trauma of losing her only son in a tragic road crash in Jamaica will stay with Norma Hibbert forever. "It is such a wanton waste of life. My pain and sadness is not something which is going to stop anytime too soon," mourns tearful Norma, of Wallworth, south east London.

Gifted Munro College student and young Reggae Boyz star Jonathan Hibbert was killed in a horrific crash while travelling to meet his mum and sister who had just arrived in Jamaica for Christmas 2002. Three other people died in the crash when an overtaking lorry ploughed into the minibus in which they were travelling.

Norma, a 52-year-old midwife, believes the accident could have been avoided if the drivers involved had obeyed road safety rules. Now she has thrown her weight behind MoneyGram's campaign 'Walk Good with MoneyGram' to raise road safety awareness in Jamaica. The money transfer company's initiative is the largest sponsorship of a road safety project in the island's history. It will see 360 pedestrian crossing signs go up across Jamaica.

"It's great that a company like MoneyGram can see the need for that and are helping," says Norma, who has set up the Jonathan Hibbert Foundation to help Jamaican youngsters obtain sports scholarships at overseas universities. "I want to ensure that my son did not die in vain. It's important for people to be aware that when they go out on the roads, they are not only taking their own lives in their hands, but other people's as well. Losing someone in an accident is a big cost. There is the emotional cost when the accident happens and the financial cost to families if they lose a breadwinner."

Norma says there also needs to be an increase in road safety education across the island and tougher penalties for those who flout driving laws. The socio-economic impact of road traffic accidents also adds extra burden to an already struggling economy, believes Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council.

"Road traffic accidents costs our hospitals an estimated $518 million (JMD) annually and we are not talking about rehabilitation, loss of production plus the pain, grief and suffering," she adds.

While latest figures show that annual deaths on Jamaica's roads have fallen below the 300 mark for the first time since 1999, there is still a lot of concern as the number of fatalities among pedestrians and children are on the increase. Fletcher now wants to see more done to ensure greater respect for life on the roads and has urged private sector firms to get involved. She hails the MoneyGram scheme which saw the first pedestrian crossing sign go up on Arthur Wint Drive near the National Stadium and Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston in March.

Fletcher says: "The majority of road death victims are pedestrians and young male drivers. Pedestrians accounted for 30 per cent of all fatalities. What is needed is greater public education and signage is a big part of that. To get 360 new pedestrian crossing signs from MoneyGram is quite significant as this will cover all pedestrian crossings island wide."

Fletcher is also campaigning for more school safety zones and new laws to curb drink driving, use of mobile phones at the wheel and the tread depth levels on tyres. Stephen Shaw is the communications and customer services manager at the government's National Works Agency, which is responsible for all the island's main roads. He says the MoneyGram initiative was the largest ever private sector contribution to road safety in Jamaica's history. "We are quite elated that MoneyGram has decided to partner us in such an important venture," says a delighted Shaw.

"It is the largest contribution we have had through sponsorship from a private sector company. Road safety is something that we take very very seriously. Getting people to understand how to use pedestrian crossings is part and parcel of what we have been doing. What MoneyGram has done will give a major boost to this programme." Deputy Commissioner of Police Tilford Johnson calls for greater focus on the role of young male drivers, who accounted for 90 per cent of road accident fatalities.

He says: "Of the 391 fatal accidents in 2003, 316 were men. Last year the situation was similar with 360 fatalities of which 287 were male drivers."

Nicole Haughton, Marketing Executive, MoneyGram UK & Ireland, says the idea is to help increase road safety awareness among pedestrians and drivers across the Caribbean island.

"Working closely with Minister Robert Pickersgill and his officials at the Ministry of Housing, Transport and Works, we were able to launch this very important road safety project. We are proud of our contribution to the wellbeing of Jamaicans and are pleased with these new signs, as we believe they will build awareness, and ultimately save lives," she adds.




MOTORCYCLE AND CAR COLLISION