Cardwell backs unannounced sobriety checks

  • New job: Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, the outgoing head of the police traffic unit

    New job: Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, the outgoing head of the police traffic unit

  • Ever vigilant: a Bermuda Police Service motorcyclist from the Roads Policing Unit awaits orders at one of the first roadside sobriety testing sites in early October (Photograph by Paul Johnston)

    Ever vigilant: a Bermuda Police Service motorcyclist from the Roads Policing Unit awaits orders at one of the first roadside sobriety testing sites in early October (Photograph by Paul Johnston)

Drink-driving road crashes could be cut even more if breath test checkpoints were not advertised in advance, the former head of the Bermuda Police traffic unit said yesterday.

Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, who led the Roads Policing Unit from 2013 to last month, said: “I would like to think that eventually we will move away from the need to publish the specific dates and that it will become the norm on any given day.

“Perhaps when we move to this the impact will be even bigger.”

Mr Cardwell said the checkpoints were still an effective deterrent to people driving after drinking or using drugs.

He added: “Certainly when we started, we would catch anywhere between six and nine impaired drivers on any given Friday night. I note that more recently this number has dropped to one or two.

“As Bermuda is such a small community, I hope that this number will eventually drop to zero.

“When it does, we will see this starting to impact the number of fatal road traffic collisions.

“We have determined through investigation that most of our fatal traffic collisions occur after the deceased has attended a social event and has consumed alcohol.”

Legislation to allow breath test checkpoints was passed last year, but police must advertise the parishes involved and the days of operation in advance.

Mr Cardwell, 46, who was promoted to chief inspector earlier this year, is now in charge at Hamilton Police Station.

He backed the objectives of The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign for the introduction of checkpoints, better speed control and a higher standard of training for the roads.

Mr Cardwell said that Rachael Robinson, the Transport Control Department’s interim road safety officer, had worked with the Bermuda Police Service on improvements to Project Ride, a car park-based mandatory motorbike training course for school pupils

He added: “As an ex officio for the BPS on the Bermuda Road Safety Council and working with the other road safety advocates, it has been identified that more work must be done in training our youth on the roads,

“I know Ms Robinson has worked tirelessly with the BPS to revise the Project Ride syllabus and I think that revision is very near to implementation.”

Mr Cardwell said that technology, enforcement and higher penalties were all part of the solution to excessive speed on the roads. He added: “The roads policing unit goes out and literally issues thousands of speeding tickets a year.

“I think that resolving the problems associated with excessive speeding is a combination of having the resources available to enforce speeds supported by effective technology to manage speeders.

“We should also take a second look at the penalties for speeding to see if the consequences are sufficient enough to deter.”

Mr Cardwell said the implementation of the Bermuda Police Road Safety Strategy was one of his biggest achievements as head of the traffic police.

He added: “In the first year, 2015, we managed to gain a lot of momentum in the road safety messaging and we saw road traffic fatalities fall to only seven.

“I really wanted to see an even more substantial reduction in road traffic fatality and serious injury collisions.

“My research in writing the Road Safety Strategy left me to draw conclusions that enforcement played such a small role in reducing collisions.”

Mr Cardwell said an attachment to the Essex Police traffic unit in Britain last year, where he learnt about their approach to road traffic death investigations and forensics, was “a real eye-opener”.

He added Bermuda could learn from the way the UK dealt with drug-drivers.

Mr Cardwell said: “I understand the amount of drug-driving arrests in the UK is now up and over the number of drink-driving arrests.

“I would like to think that drug-driving legislation will soon come online in Bermuda to increase road user safety even more and be an added tool to combat instances of impaired driving not only through alcohol but also through drugs.”

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Published Feb 5, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 5, 2019 at 7:44 am)

Cardwell backs unannounced sobriety checks

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