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Corbishley backs campaign to improve driving

Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Commissioner of Police has backed better training standards for new road users — and special courses for people who break traffic laws.

Stephen Corbishley said more sophisticated instruction for new riders and drivers would help cut the island’s grim toll of death and injury on the roads. Mr Corbishley added: “I would be supportive to any improvement and development of training that supports people in obtaining their licence and being safe on the road.

“If the training is greater than simply driving through some cones but getting them to understand awareness of space, how other road users work, the appropriate use of speed, those should be built into any model that we see in the future.

“What we want is that when someone gets on a bike they are competent to ride it and, importantly, they are aware of the consequences of speed and careless behaviours — they ride appropriately and safely.”

The Transport Control Department has already said it will review the Project Ride training scheme — a car park-based auxiliary cycle training course which is mandatory for schoolchildren only. The practical requirements of Project Ride include riding in a circle, in a zigzag, a straight line with a brake test and turning using hand signals. The course does not involve any on-road experience.

Mr Corbishley said: “Your 15 and 16-year-olds will look forward to their first chance to get on a bike so we should be having debates with young people to describe to them the consequences and, before they even know how to ride, how some of those key things affect them and changes them when they get their licence.”

Mr Corbishley said it was also important to look at refresher training for some already licensed road users as well as newcomers. He added: “We would impact on new riders, but the greater debate sits across those who have been riding for years, the embedded behaviours they have and this is why we need to have a combination of education and enforcement.

“What does rehabilitation look like as opposed to enforcement? If someone is caught driving dangerously or through excessive speed, as an alternative to fines and penalties should we go down the road of education and retraining as well?”

Mr Corbishley said he was not aware of a proposal for a graduated licensing programme submitted to the Government by Bermuda Motorcycling Academy this year.

The programme is based on training standards from the UK but adapted to Bermuda’s road conditions and includes road and track experience. Mr Corbishley said: “I am interested in the proposal and will look into it more.”

The Government and the Bermuda Road Safety Council outlined the Operation Caution road safety plan in June, which was designed to reduce traffic deaths by 25 per cent inside five years and to introduce an education programme into schools as early as primary level.