Year of carnage on Bermuda roads
The death toll on Bermuda’s roads in 2017 is one of the worst in recent years.
Fifteen lives have been lost, with drink-driving, speeding, dangerous driving and inattention listed as leading factors.
This year’s figure was exceeded in the past 17 years only by 2008, which featured 17 road deaths, and is equalled by 2014.
Statistics show the majority of fatalities are black men, who have a 60 per cent higher risk of death than other road users.
Alcohol and drugs also played a huge role, with 75 per cent of road deaths involving an impaired driver or rider.
Inspector Robert Cardwell, head of the roads policing unit, said: “Running red lights and stop signs, third-laning, excessive speed and drinking and driving are the behaviours we need to significantly reduce on our roads. Driving and riding become so routine that it is often the case that we only think about where we are going rather than how we are going to get there.
“The reality is that there is a strong possibility you will not arrive at your destination because your concentration is elsewhere.
“We see in the crashes caught on our CCTV network, which we have released on our Twitter feed, that the collisions are avoidable. All of them.”
Bermuda has one of the worst rates of road-related deaths in the developed world, close to three times the average for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The Progressive Labour Party has signalled it will introduce roadside sobriety testing and speed cameras.
Walter Roban, the Minister of Transport, has said the island cannot legislate its way out of the problem.
He was backed by the Bermuda Police Service, which said that enforcement is only one piece of the puzzle.
Experts said the entire community would have to play a part, from legislators and enforcement officers to people getting behind a wheel.
Mr Cardwell said: “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility but we are having major challenges in Bermuda in this area.”
He warned: “We cannot ticket our way out of this problem and adjusting existing legislation and creating new legislation will not fix the problem either.
“Getting everyone involved and being conscious of their driving and riding behaviour will go a long way to not only reducing the number of collisions annually but also the number of road deaths.”
Bermuda Hospitals Board statistics show that for every death on Bermuda’s roads there are 200 road accident injuries. This year, there have been about 3,000 people injured on the roads.
Injury victims include Shachkeil Burrows, an aspiring football coach who lost his leg in an accident in July and is now focused on raising funds for a bionic leg.
The police service called an emergency press conference after 21 road accidents were logged over just three days this month.
Mr Cardwell pledged to crack down on dangerous driving and said that more officers would be assigned to traffic duties.
Mr Cardwell also made the grim prediction that there would be another death on the roads before Christmas.
The fifteenth fatality came six days before Christmas Day.
The BPS has also launched a Twitter account to highlight road incidents caught on CCTV footage and update the public on enforcement measures.
This year also featured the launch of the documentary A Piece of the Rock, made with the help of the Bermuda Road Safety Council and anti-alcohol abuse charity Cada, which explored the problem.
The film identified three main solutions — roadside breath tests, the installation of speed cameras and mandatory graduated licensing.
Roadside tests are expected to be approved by MPs in this parliamentary year.
Shari-Lynn Pringle of A Piece of the Rock said: “Cultural, legislative and personal change is key.
“I’m praying that we stand still at 15 deaths for 2017 and see a significant reduction in 2018.
“I encourage parents to sit down with their children and watch the documentary, social clubs to watch with their members, churches to watch with their congregation, schools to watch with their students and discuss the statistics and, as a community make the decision to make Bermuda’s roads safer.”
The Bermuda Police Service’s new Twitter account is @bps_rpu.
A Piece of the Rock has information available via Twitter at @piece_oftherock and on Facebook at /makeBermudaroadssafer.
Visit www.cada.bm for information on impaired driving and the Bermuda Road Safety Council’s Facebook page at /Bermuda Road Safety Council for general information.