DeSilva backs Drive for Change campaign
The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign has helped “change the public narrative” on road safety, former Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva has said.
Mr DeSilva added: “It’s raised national awareness and drawn interest from people that perhaps weren’t as alive to the subject before.”
He said tougher measures like speed cameras and roadside breath tests were being “progressed by Cabinet”.
But Mr DeSilva added new safety measures were “not really for police to comment on”.
He said the police service had launched campaigns of its own, including the Selective Traffic Enforcement Programme in 2013, and a roads crackdown in January 2015.
Mr DeSilva said: “When we launched our road safety strategy in 2015, we were drawing attention to the fact that the number of lives lost on the roads outstripped deaths from gang violence three to one.
“If the island decided that gang violence was a national priority, then certainly road safety would have to be even bigger.”
Mr DeSilva, speaking as he stepped down from his job last Friday, said the “overarching principle” in cutting the grim toll of death and injury on the roads was driver behaviour.
He added: “There’s also the design of the roads.
“We have 21st-century drivers on roads that are 1960s in design, shape and certainly width.”
But he said — despite several contributing factors to road safety — “the one that sits on top of them all is driver behaviour”.
Mr DeSilva added: “It’s about personal responsibility and the culture in the country around driving standards.”
He said that drivers in the 1980s ran a gauntlet of police with radar guns hidden at the roadsides.
But Mr DeSilva added that the “expanding law enforcement role” that came with changes in crime meant that “we don’t have endless resources — and have not had for a long time”.
But he disagreed with the idea that a return of the old-fashioned traffic department would force drivers to change their ways.
Mr DeSilva said: “Certainly, from our review of the data on collisions over the last 30 years, there is no direct correlation between enforcement and road safety.”