Road Safety a priority Print E-mail
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Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00

A public meeting to introduce road safety issues to Belmopan residents was held at the George Price Centre for Peace and Development on Wednesday night of last week. Present at that meeting were members of the Belmopan City Council, Social Investment Fund, Government Officials as well as the team from the Belize Road Safety Project.

An introduction to the Belize Road Safety team was made by the Mayor of Belmopan, Simeon Lopez. The first to speak was Ms. Mavis Johnson who related the clear benefits of wearing seat belts when in a moving vehicle. 

Current research suggests that the use of seat belts in a vehicle protects approximately 90% of drivers and passengers. More than 60% of traffic injuries in Belize over the past year were due to the fact that seat belts were not being used. Even at 25 miles per hour, from the people who are ejected from a vehicle, 75% will die.
“If you think seatbelt is uncomfortable, try to think you being in a wheel chair,” warns Ms. Mavis Johnson. 

The use of safety devices while in a vehicle was also highlighted in a power point presentation by Diveall Darren, team leader for the Curriculum Consultancy within the Belize Road Safety Project. 

It was from these two key presenters that it was revealed that the current legislation as they relate to seat belts is being amended. Unquestionably, seat belts should be mandatory for all public roads as defined by section 2 of the Public Roads Act Chapter 232 Revised Edition 2000-2003. However,  the current legislation does not yet provide for those in the back seat to wearing a seat belt.

According to traffic accident expert Diveall Darren, during a collision of two vehicles traveling at least 30 miles per hour, the person in the back seat will continue moving forward at the same speed of the vehicle, as a result of the transfer of kinetic energy. The person in the back seat may collide with the person in the front seat, who may be wearing a seat belt. In such a case, it is important to consider that the back of the head is much softer maintains Diveall Darren. 

Also being considered in the future of traffic legislation is the safety of children in a vehicle. It is universally known that children in a moving vehicle will likewise continue moving by inertia during collisions if not held back by any mechanisms. Not surprisingly, the traffic experts convened in Belmopan last week also agree that when used correctly, child safety and booster seats save lives and reduce injuries by as much as 75%. Diveall Darren maintains that the value of human life especially if it is your child, far outweighs the initial capital costs of   any such restraining and protective devices.

In 2013 the Government of Belize received US $7,248,000 in loan financing from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and since then a number of ground works have been planned to further reduce accidents, which cumulatively have a 1.26 % impact on the Country’s GDP. One of those sub components of the Belize Road Safety Project was also presented last Wednesday night at the George Price Center by Rupert Munnings, the Representative from Anthony Thurton and Associates, and if all should go as planned that piece of work will be a game changer in traffic management in the Nation’s Capital. Part of the plan now being considered is the development of Lot 4a in Belmopan, which will see the development of a Roundabout by the intersection near the Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds.  At the same time, the planned work on lot 4b will change the Belmopan Ring Road and adjacent spaces permanently. Both a bike and jogging path will be confined to the Ring Road, which is located within the bustling City itself.

“The plan is to see Belmopan develop and the Roundabout is one of the major through-ways of Belmopan City, when you come to see an upgrade like that for Belmopan City it brings the City to another level,” says Rupert Munnings.  

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is the executive agency for the Belize Road Safety Project and is supported by a Project Management Unit and Leaders in the Ministries of Education, Youth and Sports; Health; Works and Transport.