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Aug 11, 2017

Belize Makes Strides in Road Safety

The Belize Road Safety Project was established in 2013 in direct response to increasing numbers of fatal traffic accidents across the country. The near-fifty-mile stretch between the entrance to Belize City and the entrance to the Hummingbird Highway approaching Belmopan, along the George Price Highway, was selected as a ‘demonstration corridor’ for infrastructural improvements including placing of signage and building of safety features. A concurrent education and awareness program was also implemented, making use of youth. The result, according to authorities, is a dramatic reduction in fatalities in this area even as others die needlessly elsewhere. The Project’s efforts have been recognized internationally and arriving on Thursday to see for himself is president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and United Nations Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, and other colleagues. As Aaron Humes reports, Todt and other road safety advocates say the work must continue when the project runs out next year.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

Touching down for the first time in Belize, United Nations Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt; UN-appointed Road Safety Advocate Michelle Yeoh, and Jose Aded, Regional FIA representative for the Americas, rode the George Price Highway to Belmopan. While the road looks good in parts, Todt told reporters that to keep Belizeans safe, more can and should be done in education and enforcement.


Jean Todt

Jean Todt, United Nations Special Envoy for Road Safety

“We know the prescription on road safety surrounds education and there is some education for the citizens in Belize but more can be done. Law enforcement: I feel it’s really the weakest point from what I have heard; we need to have stronger law enforcement on the road. Road infrastructure we just spoke about; vehicles, are too poor and Belize should have access to more modern vehicles and we need to be able to give Belize road users auto-stability control; with safety belts in the front, the rear, with airbags and unfortunately, sometime there is [a list] of cars which are forbidden to be used in developing countries so it has to stop; and post-crash care; clearly post-crash care remains a weak point even though things has been done.”


The Belize Road Safety Project which has control of the demonstration corridor between Belize City and Belmopan is not limited to that area with its activities. Monitoring and evaluation officer Faith Cunningham says television is the mode of choice for their advocacy.


Faith Cunningham

Faith Cunningham, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Belize Road Safety Project

“We try to ensure that public awareness is increased and this is done through several public appearances and booths, so forth, as well as the development of an education curriculum, which we have actually spearheaded in including in both the primary and secondary school curriculum. We also have the ads that we show on television stations and on radio stations as well; and we try to ensure that during public holidays and so forth when you would have a lot of speeding and driving and drinking and driving, we encourage the public to remember the safety standards that we need in the country.”


While Todt refrained from commenting on the state of Belize’s roads and formal attempts from international agencies to obtain funding to upgrade them, he had kind words for how quickly the country’s attitude has turned around on the issue of road safety and opined that were that record to be kept up, international funding would flow in freely.


Jean Todt

“I commend the work which has been done and will be done and the interest which has been given to road safety; but your road infrastructure has to be assessed and we cannot judge the progress on only eighty or hundred-kilometer roads, but we are encouraging the government, and all of those who participated in this program – we are talking about the Caribbean Development Bank, about the IDB – so everybody has to participate to fulfill the need of all the country in terms of global infrastructure.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


The Ministry of Works recently announced plans for future upgrades of the entire Philip Goldson and George Price Highways from separate funding sources. Currently the first five miles of the highway are being redone in conjunction with a new Haulover Bridge, after the section from the bridge to the Airport Road junction was re-done. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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