Premier vows to address issue of road deaths

  • Michael Dunkley  (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

    Michael Dunkley (Photo by Nicola Muirhead)

New laws will be introduced this year to improve road safety.

The announcement was made yesterday by Transport and Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, after a series of recent road traffic accidents claimed the lives of three men.

“The end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 have been grim reminders that we are losing far too many people in bike collisions on this tiny island,” Mr Crockwell said.

“As the Minister responsible for Transport, I must emphasise that one of this government’s priorities is to continue to find ways to encourage safer behaviour and to discourage poor choices so that we can reduce death and injury on our roads.”

Premier Michael Dunkley added: “It is past time for us to address dangerous road practices and this will be a priority of the government in 2015 and beyond.

“The seriousness of this situation is underscored by the fact that if 15 members of our community had succumbed to other circumstances, like disease or gun violence, we would term it a crisis.”

Mr Dunkley said that the Government, together with the Bermuda Police Service and the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport, is determined to meet the challenges of driving under the influence, speeding and careless driving with strong enforcement, increased education and an effort that “reverses a pattern of road use that too often has tragic consequences.”

He added that a key element of any strategy will be a focus on personal responsibility.

“Motorists must make good choices as the start of any progress in road safety and the focus of the education component must place personal responsibility at its core,”

“Our community has to be involved and we must all be responsible when driving,” Mr Crockwell added.

“Take extra precautions on our roads, follow the rules of the road, always exercise care and caution and never drive after drinking alcohol. I can’t stress enough that we all have to be serious about making a stronger commitment to road safety in 2015.”

The announcement was made by Mr Dunkley and Mr Crockwell after three men died in road traffic accidents over the holiday period.

Shawn Williams, 23, of Paget, died after he lost control of his bike and crashed into a tree on Paynter’s Road on December 21, and 19-year-old Stephen Edwards, of Sandys, died on December 31, following a collision on South Road, Devonshire, the day before. Mr Edwards’ death was the fifteenth road fatality of 2014.

Timothy Wright, 62, of Warwick, died following a two-vehicle collision on Parsons Road, Pembroke, on January 1. His death marked the first road fatality of 2015.

The Premier expressed his “sincerest condolences” to the families of those killed on the roads.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with these families who have spent this season of joy mourning for their loved ones,” he said.

“As we comfort them, I would urge all motorists to exercise care, courtesy and extra caution on the roads.”

Mr Crockwell also extended his condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Edwards and Mr Wright.

He said: “No one wants to end a year or start one by losing a loved one, this is tragic. My sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of both of these men as I too am deeply saddened by their loss.”

Council on Drug and Alcohol Abuse (CADA) executive director Anthony Santucci said that he was encouraged to read that the Premier and Minister of National Safety have termed the number of road fatalities a “crisis”. He said that although alcohol and drugs were not involved in all road fatalities, they did play a part in up to 70 per cent of the road deaths since 2000.

He reiterated his recommendations for non-selective sobriety check points, mandatory alcohol testing for all collisions resulting in injury, social hosting legislation and the establishment of an Alcohol Bureau of Control that would enforce all liquor licensing laws.

He added: “If we are to change Bermuda’s relationship with alcohol, we encourage government to follow our 2008 Legislative committee recommendations.”

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Published Jan 3, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 3, 2015 at 9:14 am)

Premier vows to address issue of road deaths

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