Road deaths are back in the news after three people died in just five weeks, bringing the total number of deaths this year to four.
Three of the victims were visitors and the fourth was a German working in Bermuda. While the total number of deaths remains well below the numbers recorded some ten years ago, the three recent deaths have brought this problem back into focus.
It is worth repeating former Road Safety Council Chairman Dr Joseph Froncionis axiom that almost no collisions, regardless of whether they involve one vehicle or more, are accidents. Almost all are caused by inexperience, inattention or some other avoidable cause. A strikingly high number involve alcohol.
Dr Froncionis trailblazing research also showed that the highest single age group, by a long way, involved in collisions are people in their late teens or early 20s. This can be put down directly to inexperience. The same cause might be the case with three visitors who have died this year, although no official causes for their deaths have been provided yet.
With four road deaths, Bermuda is on track for roughly the same number of fatalities as in 2011, when there were nine, the lowest since 2004. The total number of collisions also fell substantially in 2011 from 2010. Nonetheless, it is often a matter of chance whether the victim of a collision is killed or severely injured, especially when they are on a motorbike, as all of the fatalities have been.
This has become increasingly the case since seat belts became mandatory. That has substantially cut the number of deaths and serious injuries in cars. That means Bermuda should place more focus on bike safety and on cutting impaired driving.
For visitors, the need for better training is crucial. While it is true that training is no substitute for experience, it can help. Cycle liveries must also become more assertive about stopping tourists who are clearly unsafe from riding. Too often, the training is perfunctory and the screening is too thin.
The time has also come to re-examine the question of whether visitors should be allowed to drive some form of car or golf cart. To some extent, this is already happening, especially around Tuckers Point Club and Mid-Ocean Club in Tuckers Town. To be sure, having small, low powered vehicles on major roads could cause extra congestion, but some roads or lanes could be designated for tourist vehicles, as could the paved stretches of the Railway Trail. To be sure, some of these ideas have drawbacks. But it is time to have a national discussion on this question.
Fatal collisions cause untold grief for the families of the victims. Serious injuries can leave victims with lifelong physical and mental disabilities, that restrict their lives in multiple ways. More broadly, collisions cost families both emotionally and financially, and the same is true for the community as a whole. Tourism too will be hurt by this as time goes on. If mopeds are the primary means of giving visitors independent transport, and they come to be considered to be too dangerous to drive, then tourism will wither.
For all these reasons, Bermuda needs to make its roads and drivers safer. Better training for visitors and young people would be a start, as would better screening of rental drivers. More roadside sobriety checks would make a massive difference, especially at this time of year when drinking tends to increase.
This newspaper implores all drivers to be more careful and to remember that because Bermuda is so small, speeding serves almost no purpose.
The best way to avoid a collision is to obey the rules of the road and to concentrate on driving, and not on passengers, cell phones, pedestrians or passing vehicles. As the advertisements say, the life you save may be your own.
Rose heading to Bermuda
Spirit gaining ground
Dickinson hangs on to win thriller
Tyrone qualifies for World Championships
Ton-up Jones destroys Somerset
Haddrell wins Strokeplay Championship
Town and Force share the spoils
Take Our Poll