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Corbishley: island must debate speed limit

Better understanding: Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley (File photograph)

Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley has called for a national discussion about speed limits.

Mr Corbishley suggested 35km/h is probably a good limit for Bermuda, even though most people drive up to 15km/h faster than that. But he said an assessment was required to determine the safest maximum speed.

“Having lived here now for four months, I have a better understanding of the way road network works,” he told The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign. “I actually think 35km/h is not that far away from where it should be or whether it is actually at the right level.

“We need to get the factor of safety which is the absolute priority — it is not about arriving there quickly, it’s about arriving safely. It is one for government but we can inform some of that.”

Mr Corbishley acknowledged that very few people stuck to the actual speed limit in Bermuda but said that was not a reason to change it.

“I’ve worked and lived in places all over the world, and I don’t think there is any location where you can turn around and say people don’t go above the speed limit. The speed limit sets the threshold to which enforcement action will be taken.

“I think the issue is that we shouldn’t be raising the speed limit just because everybody drives above it.

“We need some proper assessment on what the right speed is for Bermuda to enable the best safety.

“There needs to be a debate around what the speed limit is and again we can contribute to it but at the moment it is set at the level that it is and we will respond to that accordingly.”

In a wide-ranging interview on road safety, Mr Corbishley said police would be exploring ways in which cameras could help to calm traffic over the next 12 months.

Asked whether he believed there was a danger that motorists would simply speed up in locations without cameras, Mr Corbishley said this could be countered by mobile cameras and multiple cameras in different locations that clock average speeds.

He said: “I’ve seen some good partnership models with mobile capability and it gives you flexibility to identify locations that are particularly problematic.

“Through some of the technology, particularly automatic licence-plate reading, you can calculate the average speed that the vehicle has driven.

“We also need to look at some of the legislative issues we need to put in place, particularly with motorcycles and the number plates.

“Transport Control Department is doing a lot of work to enforce the numberplates that are required because that allows us to be able to identify people and manage roads more effectively. Similarly to the roadside sobriety, many factors need to come together.”

Mr Corbishley said that the introduction of cameras would not happen overnight.

There was no mention of speed cameras in the Throne Speech last Friday. He also said he did not want to repeat a past problem in which people were ending up in prison after being unable to pay excessive fines.

“Catching and enforcing doesn’t change things over night, it is about educating people, looking at when they do offend rather than just giving them a fine and penalty points,” he said. “What is the rehabilitation you take them through? How do you get them to understand the impact and the dangerous speed?

“As alternatives to prosecution I am very supportive of training and awareness courses so people understand the consequence of their behaviour and that has been seen to be more significant in reducing reoffending than any enforcement process.”