Minister admits introduction of speed cameras needs to be ‘faster and better’
Speed cameras have not been brought into service fast enough, the transport minister admitted today.
But Lawrence Scott insisted near record levels of road deaths did not amount to a national emergency.
Mr Scott said the Government was treating the situation as a “priority” not a major crisis after the death toll on the roads hit 16 so far this year.
He added the introduction of speed cameras needed to be “faster and better”, although the Government was “making progress” on the problem.
Speed cameras were a key element of Operation Caution, launched in 2018 by Walter Roban, then the transport minister, with the aim of cutting traffic deaths by 25 per cent
Mr Scott said: “Operation Caution is to be completed by 2023, so we are not behind on the implementation of speed cameras, but we do admit that we have to work a bit faster and a bit better with them moving forward.”
He added: “I don’t know if it rises to the level of a national emergency, but I do think that it rises to the level in which it should be a priority – which it is for the Ministry of Transport.
“I think that we can’t put a number on making it a national emergency.”
Mr Scott said: “It is whether we are able to put in the mitigating factors to change the trend and instead of having an upward trend to have a downward trend.
“And when we can no longer change that trend I think that is when... we should start looking at it as a national emergency.
“It is a priority, but if we do nothing and things don’t change, unfortunately it could raise to the level... of a national emergency.”
Bermuda’s grim roads death tally is now just one short of the 17 recorded in 2008, the highest annual figure in the last 21 years.
Mr Scott said the island’s driving culture needed to be “reined-in” - and he hinted at changes to how licences were issued and the introduction of stricter anti-drink driving measures.
He added: “It is going to take all of us to work together, to be very conscious of this because it is ingrained in our culture.
“And we as a Government, in conjunction with the Bermuda Police Service, cannot do it alone.”
Mr Scott said: “That is the direction that we are going right now. We are looking at the policies and procedures in which one gets to obtain the license.
“The culture that we have on our roads, it didn’t just start today. This is something that is seemingly systemic and I think it goes back to our training.
“The way you train individuals and the better quality of training that they have the more prepared they are to go on our roads, the more you change that culture.
“Because it is not the 16 and 18 year olds that are the majority of those losing their lives on the roads.
“If you look at the statistics it’s actually those that have 15 to 20 years of experience.”
Stronger penalties are needed to help bring down the death toll on the island’s roads, the One Bermuda Alliance has said.
Susan Jackson, the shadow transport minister, appealed for an overhaul of the driving licence regime, the traffic handbook and repairs for pot-holed roads as she asked drivers to show more restraint.
Ms Jackson said warning equipment needed to be upgraded and the Government should review penalties laid out in the Road Traffic Act 1947 “with a view to updating and strengthening them”.
She added: “While we can appreciate the services of the Bermuda Police Service, better enforcement on the roads is imperative. In some cases the police need to save people from themselves.”
Ms Jackson branded the state of some of the island’s roads as “deplorable”.
She asked: “When will this be addressed? It’s not equitable for road users to be focusing on the road while dodging potholes.”
Mr Scott also backed a tougher approach to drink driving.
He said: “I believe that, yes, DUI rules should become more strict. But we have to keep in mind that history has shown that the stricter the penalty doesn’t necessarily mean a change in behaviour.
“It goes to the culture. We have Bermudians that brag about how good a driver or rider they are while they are intoxicated. That mentality is what has to change.”
Mr Scott dismissed comparisons with the Cayman Islands, a territory with a similar size of population, which declared a national emergency after eight people were killed after road accidents this year.
He said: “I think the Cayman Islands and Bermuda are two totally different jurisdictions with two totally different road infrastructures and two totally different legislations governing the way and the uses thereof.”