Road crash victims rise in 2018

The number of road crash victims rose in 2018, it was revealed yesterday.

The Bermuda Hospitals Board said statistics showed that 1,740 people were taken to hospital with roads injuries last year — 50, or 2.95 per cent, up on the 1,685 recorded in 2017.

The number of deaths dropped by three in 2018 — down to 12 from the 15 recorded the year before, but one up on the 11 in 2016.

The news led road safety campaigners to renew calls for speed cameras to be introduced and better training for the roads for new motorcycle riders.

The figures, however, showed a drop in the monthly injury rates in the last four months of 2018, including a dramatic drop after roadside breath tests were introduced last September.

And injuries appeared to be less serious as the number of victims who needed treatment in intensive care also fell by six from the 28 recorded in 2017.

A total of 33 road accidents victims were treated in intensive care in 2016.

The overall rise in injury numbers came despite The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign and the introduction of roadside breath tests.

Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell, the former head of the police traffic unit, said yesterday that drink-driving was only part of the problem.

He said driving under the influence of drugs, driving at excessive speed and careless driving also had a big impact.

Mr Cardwell said: “We have so many things that contribute to the problems.

“We have got a little feather in our cap because we have implemented impaired-driving regulations and legislation but we still need to move forward with the other things that affect collisions.

“Speed and impaired driving are certainly a big factor in our fatal collisions — sometimes it is both combined. The island does need to slow down and legislation can help with that.”

Mr Cardwell has also campaigned for better roads training including on-road lessons.

The Royal Gazette launched Drive for Change in January last year to campaign for roadside breath tests, better speed control measures and more training for new road users.

The first roadside breath test checkpoints were set up on September 21 after new legislation was approved by the Governor in July.

In June, July and August last year, the number of people taken to hospital in the three months from June to August was 190, 196 and 189 respectively.

But the number dropped to 126 in September.

Figures showed that 516 people were taken to hospital during the final four months of last year, compared with 541 for the same period in 2017, a decrease of 25, or 4.6 per cent.

But Mr Cardwell said that more time was needed to judge the effect of the new breath test laws.

He added: “I would like to say that the checkpoints are starting to have an impact, but we can’t evidence that in this short time frame.

“We need something more conclusive to show that this is happening.”

Mr Cardwell explained: “June, July and August are our social months and the numbers tend to creep up. There were major increase in tourists this year attributed to our cruise ship season, which went later.”

Shari-Lynn Pringle, campaign manager for road safety group A Piece of the Rock, backed Mr Cardwell.

She said: “It’s going to take probably a few more years before we start to see a dramatic decrease.

“I think we need more consistency, meaning we just need to keep getting the message out.

“Speed cameras have been talked about and if they can be implemented and prove effective then that will help.

“But right now we just have to keep pushing home the messages that the various campaigns are trying to send out and hope that everybody at least takes it upon themselves to be a little bit more responsible on the roads.”

Ms Pringle added that the group was “adamant” that a graduated licensing programme should be set up as well to run alongside the road safety training programme Project Ride.

Anthony Santucci, executive director for anti-substance abuse charity Cada, said the organisation would continue to push for improved laws, including speed cameras and upgrades to the TCD training programme.

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Published Feb 26, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 26, 2019 at 12:41 am)

Road crash victims rise in 2018

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