Jamaica Has the Highest Road Fatality Rate in the Region

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica is reported to have the highest road fatality rate for the region as concerns continue about the persistently high rates of road traffic deaths on the island’s roads.

carefullsA sign urging motorists to be careful on the roads in Jamaica (PAHO photo)The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) last Thursday participated in the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) review meeting and according to a statement issued afterwards,  despite proactive efforts by the government through the NRSC and its members, the death toll remains alarmingly high each year.

According to the Road Safety Unit, Jamaica recorded 425 road fatalities in 2023. The crisis is fueled by indiscipline and social determinants such as excessive speeding and disregard for road rules.

PAHO said comparative data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that Jamaica’s road fatality rate of 18 per 100,000 persons per year is higher than the average for the Region of the Americas (14.1).

It said this places the country in a tie for 13th  out of 19 positions regarding the lowest rates of road fatalities among countries in the Americas. It is 3.5 times higher than its Caribbean neighbour, Trinidad and Tobago, and only marginally lower than the average rate for the African Region at 10.

PAHO/WHO Representative for Jamaica, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands, Ian Stein, durng the meeting emphasized the immediate need for an intersectoral and all-of-government approach to formulate and enforce effective policies and interventions.

Despite the disappointing figures, Stein said that the road safety challenges in Jamaica present “real opportunities for improvement,” with particular attention needed to address alarming statistics related to motorcycle fatalities.

PAHO said it is actively collaborating with the NRSC,  in enhancing road safety strategies to create a safer and more sustainable transport environment across the island.

In 2023, PAHO supported a road safety management capacity review conducted by the NRSC. PAHO is also leading the implementation of a collaboration with the United Nations Road Safety Fund, focusing on the Safe System Approach for Safer Roads in Jamaica.

PAHO said this effort focuses on road safety management, behavior improvement, and post-crash care outcomes in alignment with the WHO/United Nations Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030.

The Safe System Approach, championed by the Global Plan, prioritizes people and safety and has shown success in regions such as the Western Pacific, which reported a 15 per cent  decline in traffic deaths in 2021.