Danger in the driver’s seat

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  • Scene of tragedy: one of the lorries involved in the worst crash in Britain for almost 25 years, claiming eight lives last Saturday, is removed from the M1 in Buckinghamshire (Photograph by Ben Cawthra/The Sunday Times)

    Scene of tragedy: one of the lorries involved in the worst crash in Britain for almost 25 years, claiming eight lives last Saturday, is removed from the M1 in Buckinghamshire (Photograph by Ben Cawthra/The Sunday Times)

Few drivers or riders on our narrow winding roads have not had the experience of having to take evasive action to avoid another motorist who appeared oblivious to the safety of themselves and others by displaying conduct that is contrary to basic rules designed for the safety of all who use public roads

This is a situation that has plagued this beautiful island for years, even though thousands of words and just about every type of radio, newspaper and television advertisement have been tried to change the mindset of reckless motorists. They create danger for all by not complying with commonsense warnings, such as not driving or riding after consuming any substance that is known to affect the ability of the mind to respond with alertness should an emergency arise.

With the amount of vehicles on our roads daily, there are so many close calls that it has become the norm to be watchful for that driver or rider who wants to overtake on a blind corner in heavy traffic. It is an almost suicidal manoeuvre, but occurs regularly, especially in heavy traffic. Police are constantly urging the public to be more safety-conscious about traffic rules and also to refrain from operating any type of vehicle when under the influence. It would seem that most of the warnings over the years to some degree have been akin to water rolling off a duck’s back.

We know there are many very good motorists out there who do their best to comply with the rules, and they do this not to win some type of award, but simply because they believe that every road user should feel responsible for helping to make travel on our island as safe as possible. One aspect of real concern — and this has been the case for too many years — is that the driver or rider, after a bout of drinking or consuming some other substance, takes to the road with judgment of the mind incapable of responding should something go wrong.

None of us are perfect, and neither are the vehicles we operate. This is why it is most important for those in the driver’s seat, or those riding, to be at the highest level of alertness.

Being incapacitated while operated a vehicle can carry deadly consequences and it is a problem with countries around the world.

Last Saturday in England, eight Indian nationals were killed when the minibus they were travelling in was “squashed flat” in a crash in which the smaller vehicle was caught between two HGV trucks on the southbound M1 motorway in Buckinghamshire. They had been en route to Wembley Stadium to join a tour group bound for Europe.

Two drivers have been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, with one of them charged with causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed alcohol limit.

Undoubtedly, that driver would face serious charges, but the deep emotional pain of relatives will last much longer than any sentence.

There are countless stories of such tragedies and yet drinking and driving remains a challenge for officials, even here in Bermuda. It takes only one person with disregard for the law to shatter the lives of many with an act of lunacy while operating a vehicle. When our legislators gather at the House of Parliament for the first time since the General Election, which resulted in a change of command, it should be the hope of all Bermudians that the Progressive Labour Party government and the opposition One Bermuda Alliance collectively will take another look at whether it is time to review existing laws to punish those who chose to become hazards on our roads, placing everyone else at risk.

Our legislators will have their hands full tackling a wide range of issues, including healthcare for seniors, education, crime and creating jobs, not to mention an economy still not out of the woods. However Bermuda needs to feel safe at home and on our roads.

Road safety should be high on the list of priorities.

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Published Sep 2, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 2, 2017 at 12:28 am)

Danger in the driver’s seat

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