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Digicel joins Drive for Change campaign

On board: Chris Wright, right, the Digicel director of operations, is shown with Zacquaya Butterfield and Carlos Medeiros (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Telecoms firm Digicel has joined forces with The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign to help stop mobile phone use when on the move and cut down on speeding.

The telecommunications company said it wanted to help in the campaign to encourage respect for the roads.

Chris Wright, the firm’s head of operations, said: “It has become almost the norm to drive much faster than the speed limit, make poor decisions on the road and have a few drinks before getting behind the wheel.

“This immediately needs to change.

“The statistics speak for themselves, 118 deaths in ten years, with 11 deaths so far this year, so many of them avoidable.

“As a responsible corporate citizen, we’ve joined Drive for Change to help reinforce the message of slowing down as well as educating people about the improper use of mobile phones while driving.”

Pledge walls are to be installed at the Digicel and BTC stores so customers can sign up to reduce their speed and not use their phones when on the roads.

Mr Wright added: “We’ll be handing out car stickers with these pledges so people can proudly show they are improving their driving behaviour.”

Digicel will also send text messages to its customers with road safety messages and has promised a staff education campaign.

Mr Wright said: “They will become ambassadors for Drive for Change and we will be inviting them to sign the petition and share it among their friends and family.

“Education plays a big part. People need to be constantly reminded and educated about their driving behaviour.”

Mr Wright said Digicel wanted its customers to make the most of their data packages — but not on the roads.

He added: “This isn’t about profitability or tied to a commercial message.

“According to reports from the UK Department of Transport, between 2013 and 2015, on average 24 people per year were killed in road traffic collisions where the driver of the vehicle was using their mobile phone.

“This compared to 12 people in 2012. This matches a report by the RAC, the UKs foremost motoring organisation, that revealed a significant increase in the number of drivers using a mobile phone at the wheel.

“This is without doubt not specific to the UK but a worldwide trend and Bermuda is no different.”

Mr Wright said: “We are the island’s fastest network but sometimes speed isn’t a good thing, especially on the roads.

“Journey times are short here so if you get a message or notification, surely it can wait?

“If you do need to make or receive a call, pull over safely and take the call before proceeding with your journey.”

He added: “Road safety starts before you get into your car or on your bike.

“This includes not drinking if you have to drive or if you’ve had something to drink, find an alternative way to get to your destination.

“Likewise, give yourself enough time to get to your destination so you aren’t rushing or if you need to make a call, call before you drive.

“This has to be a wake-up call, otherwise the carnage and avoidable losses to families and communities will continue.”