The Ministry of National Security says it has invested approximately $52 million in a Virtual Training and Motorcycle Simulation Programme in Westmoreland, in an attempt to reduce road fatalities.
The ministry said the programme will also allow the relevant authorities to assess physical capabilities and readiness of motorcyclists.
According to Minister without portfolio in the ministry, Senator Matthew Samuda, the main causes of road fatalities observed are failure to keep to the left, travelling at excessive speed and turning right without due care.
Samuda was speaking at the launch of the ministry’s Outreach and Training Programme and the installation of a motorcycle simulator at the Petersfield Vocational Training Centre, in Westmoreland.
He noted that motorcycle related deaths account for a large portion of road fatalities in Jamaica.
The minister said motorcycle related fatalities have been on the rise over the past five years.
“So far, there have been 505 fatalities. Since this year alone, there are 79 recorded fatalities and interestingly, Westmoreland has recorded the highest number with 21 motorcyclists’ fatalities. This situation must be addressed as there are clear breaches in the National Road Safety Council guidelines by motorists who refuse to practice safety measures,” he said.
“This is a very important beginning in the right direction that has brought together collective and creative minds, using a joint up government approach for innovative strategies, to reduce motorcyclist fatalities,” Samuda continued.
According to the ministry, the programme is being supported by the National Road Safety Council with training being delivered by Heart Trust/NSTA. The Motorcycle Operations Level I Programme will be introduced in September as part of the curriculum at the vocational training centre.
Samuda said a second simulator will be placed at Grange Hill High School, where a remedial after school programme for high school drop outs currently takes place.
“This location was strategically chosen resulting from the parish being a hotspot for illicit activities and leading the list for most motorcyclists’ fatality,” he said.
The ministry said the programme will sensitise participants to the Road Code, types of motorcycles, their parts and controls, along with defensive riding.
The virtual platform will also provide re-enactments of common accidents and solutions on how to avoid collisions.
The reality training will be delivered under four modules, incorporating the use of virtual reality headsets to accommodate persons who are unable to read and write, the ministry said.