Road crash ‘crisis’

  • Police: Road Deaths

  • Chairman of the Road Safety Council Carlton Crockwell addresses the media at a press conference.

(Photo by Akil Simmons)

    Chairman of the Road Safety Council Carlton Crockwell addresses the media at a press conference. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

The Island’s “culture of bad driving behaviour” has led to nine deaths so far in 2014, plus 848 collisions — 80 of them serious.

And the latest police statistics prompted Carlton Crockwell of the Road Safety Council to call road conditions “a national health crisis”.

Imploring the public for help, Inspector Robert Cardwell of the Roads Policing Unit said police could “hand out 200 speeding tickets a week, and we would have done nothing to change the problems on the roads”, as speeding in the 65 to 85kph range continues to increase.

“Enforcement alone is not going to reverse the current culture,” he said, adding that 26- to 35-year-olds were the top group for serious injuries — and also “the hardest group to reach”.

The Cup Match holiday logged 24 collisions resulting in four serious injuries and one death.

The ninth victim of Bermuda’s roads was 51-year-old Melvin Smith, who died on August 5 from injuries sustained in an August 2 crash.

Mr Smith and his wife, Dawn Santucci-Smith, were lying in a tent by Ferry Reach when they were struck by a car that came off Kindley Field Road, St George’s.

Police were not at liberty to comment on the crash, which remains under investigation.

But yesterday’s joint press conference with the Road Safety Council came with sobering new statistics.

The 11 days after Cup Match saw 37 additional collisions — 19 with damage only, 16 in which 19 people were lightly injured — and two crashes involving serious injury.

In the latter case, three people required hospital treatment. One had to be airlifted to the US.

There were 139 serious injury collisions in 2012, and 136 in 2013 — 83 percent have involved Bermudians, 81 percent of them male.

Growing public ire over dangerous driving recently prompted road safety expert Joseph Froncioni to condemn the apparent lack of action in tackling perilous road conditions.

A police spokesman called for a change of the public’s mindset, pointing to the emotional toll of serious collisions, plus the insurance and infrastructural costs incurred.

“Driving or riding while impaired, in a manner that is dangerous or without due care and attention, are decision based,” Insp Cardwell added.

“Bad decisions are too frequently being made by road users, and the consequences are very serious. There is an increased disregard for the national speed limit, traffic signs, red lights and the requirement to use turn signals.”

The toll is measured in “brain injury, paralysis, broken limbs and/or admission to the King Edward VII Intensive Care Unit”.

Asked what more could be done with the motoring public apparently deaf to the road safety message, Dr Crockwell disagreed, saying: “A portion of the community is listening.”

He commended plans announced yesterday by Premier and National Security Minister Michael Dunkley to bring legislation for roadside sobriety checks before Parliament during the next legislative session — although Insp Cardwell said he didn’t believe the use of speed cameras in Bermuda was currently “up for discussion”.

Dr Crockwell said further road safety educational initiatives would come over the next few months, with back-to-school events, the Road Safety Week coming up from November 17 to 23, the Christmas campaign, and continued efforts by educational officer David Minors, who had strongly advocated bringing in sobriety checks.

He urged the public to take heed of the safety campaign unrolled last year, called “Think, Choose and Live”.

“We need your help,” Dr Crockwell said. “Today is our request to the Bermuda public to slow down, look twice, ride carefully, and remember — the life you might save could be your own.”

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Published Aug 15, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 15, 2014 at 8:42 am)

Road crash ‘crisis’

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