DeSilva: Project Ride for all new motorists
Road training should be mandatory for all new road users and speed cameras could be introduced, the transport minister has said.
Zane DeSilva added that the training programme Project Ride, or a similar programme, should be compulsory for all riders, not just schoolchildren.
He said: “I think it should, because the data is out there that it is not 16 or 17-year-olds that are dying. We want people to do the training because it will protect people.”
Statistics have shown 16-year-old riders were most at risk of a road crash between 2009 and 2015, but 21 to 25-year-olds were most likely to die in a crash over the same period.
Eight out of the 11 fatalities last year were aged more than 30. Mr DeSilva said: “When I was 16 years old we didn't have Project Ride or any of this on board, so we found our own way and many people picked up bad driving habits.”
Mr DeSilva was speaking to The Royal Gazette's Drive for Change campaign after he tabled a Green Paper on transport in the House of Assembly last Friday.
The paper, completed last April, included results of a transport survey completed by almost 2,500 people, as well as the views of 70 interested organisations.
A total of 58 per cent of respondents said an advanced, mandated, graduated licensing programme for young drivers should be introduced, but no question was included about the rest of the driving population.
Rachael Robinson, the road safety officer at the Transport Control Department, is carrying out work to improve Project Ride, which will include a three-stage re-certification programme for instructors and the creation of a new off-road training centre in Devonshire.
Ms Robinson, along with Operation Caution, drawn up by the Bermuda Road Safety Council, is to start road safety education for school pupils beginning at primary school level.
The Royal Gazette's Drive for Change was launched a year and a half ago to lobby the Government to introduce a mandatory, graduated, licensing scheme that included on-road training.
The campaign also asked for speed cameras and legislation to allow roadside breath-test checkpoints. The first checkpoints were set up last September.
Mr DeSilva said he would consider introducing practical on-road training before licensing, in line with Britain, the United States and Canada. Project Ride is at present taught in a car park. Mr DeSilva added: “If things will improve safety, you will never hear me say never.”
Other interested parties asked for the installation of speed cameras “as soon as possible” and for high penalties for those caught exceeding the speed limit.
Mr DeSilva said the introduction of speed cameras was largely a matter for the national security ministry, but he decided to highlight them in his ministerial statement on the Green Paper.
He added: “I thought I would mention it because I have mentioned it to the national security minister and I think it is something that we should consider.”
Mr DeSilva said: “You can't have police out with radar guns 24/7, but if people are speeding, they should be penalised.”
He also ruled out an increase in the 35km/hr speed limit.
He said: “You do have to decide where do you draw the line; do you book someone for doing one kilometre an hour over the limit? I think worldwide police do give you a little grace. I wouldn't want to increase the speed limit because then that grace gets larger.”
Mr DeSilva added roads bans should be considered for speeders and that he would also consider Uber-style ride-sharing services. The Green Paper survey showed 65 per cent backed a new service to complement taxis, although Walter Roban, the previous transport minister, has said the Government was “not actively exploring” that idea.
Mr DeSilva said: “I am not the same, I will look at anything and everything. I am not totally against it, whether or not it would work for Bermuda, I don't know. I would be worried about the taxi industry. If I paid $100,000 for a taxi permit, I would hate to think that someone would come along that cuts my rates. I would think that it would form part of the debate that is coming in the house on the Green Paper.”
The Green Paper also praised Drive for Change and other road-safety campaigns. It said: “The Royal Gazette's Drive for Change campaign, as well as the film A Piece of the Rock, have done an outstanding job to help bring awareness to bad driving behaviour and the severity of road traffic collisions, accidents, injury and death on Bermuda's roads”.
Drive for Change has a paper and online petition for speed cameras and mandatory road training for all road users.
• The online version is at www.change.org/p/drive-for-change-let-s-make-bermuda-s-roads-safer
Highlights of the public consultation process included:
The installation of speed cameras as soon as possible, especially in frequent collision spots, and the introduction of high penalties for those caught.
Enhanced education and training programmes to produce safer drivers.
The introduction of on the spot fines for drink-driving and the impounding of offenders’ vehicles for a year.
Fines for drink-driving should be increased to a minimum of $2,000.
Court appearances for minor traffic offences should be abolished in favour of mailed tickets.
A bigger police presence on the roads and strict enforcement of traffic legislation.
Revisions to the Traffic Code.
The installation of more mirrors at blind spots.
The implementation of incentives for good driving.
TCD traffic officers should carry out routine checks at high schools for incidents of pupils towing and other offences.
Forty per cent of those surveyed said that Bermuda’s roads are “somewhat safe for driving”.
But 37 per cent said they are “not so safe” and 17 per cent believed they were “not safe at all”.
Forty per cent disagreed that Bermuda’s roads were properly maintained and 25 per cent strongly disagreed.
Seventy-four per cent thought the level of traffic fines and the demerit system were insufficient deterrents.