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Tech could be key to cut in roads deaths

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Vehicle debris at the scene of the island’s second road tragedy of 2021 in the early hours of Monday (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)
One year on: The Bermuda Institute class of 2021, who lost classmate Kijani Burgess one year ago today, called on the community to wear blue this Monday in tribute to people who have lost their lives on the roads (Photograph supplied)

The island must “do something different” to stop carnage on the roads, an Assistant Commissioner of Police said last night.

Martin Weekes said he planned to discuss new approaches with the Government, as well as Dennis Lister III, the chairman of the Road Safety Council, in the wake of two fatal crashes just a week apart.

Mr Weekes said that some had failed to pay attention to road safety messages and that technology could be used to supplement traditional policing.

He added: “I think there’s an opportunity for an enterprising Bermudian as far as technology is concerned.”

He praised the public’s use of dashcams to highlight dangerous driving and said police were installing similar cameras in every police cars.

Mr Weekes said there were regular calls for roadside speed cameras, but police lacked the resources to track down and ticket speeders by themselves.

He added: “We have to look at technology, where every time you go through a red light you automatically get a ticket in the post.

“There’s a huge opportunity for the Bermuda Government to cover their costs with technology.”

Mr Weekes said last Monday’s crash happened just before 9am while the crash about 1am this Monday was after curfew.

He added: “Obviously we’re reviewing CCTV and interviewing witnesses to try and find out what happened with the latest one.

“Clearly, you should not be out after curfew unless you are an exempted worker.”

Mr Weekes said the bad driving habits and speeding from the lockdown in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic had continued into 2021.

He said: “I also think there are people racing home to try and make the curfew.

“We’ve certainly had reports that close to the curfew, there are bikes and cars racing down the road to get home.”

Mr Weekes admitted there were frequent calls for the heavy motorcycle policing of traffic used in the past.

But he said: “What people forget is the police service was almost 100 people more in those days.

“We still had a lot of road fatalities on bikes, even in the days when we were doing the most robust enforcement – and now there’s an awful amount more bikes and cars.”

Mr Weekes said he understood the Government was looking at the use of speed cameras, which would need legal changes.

He added: “The other thing is junctions we consistently see accidents happen on.

“We all know about the top of Tee Street in Devonshire, but we still see accidents. We have to look at something different. A roundabout? Traffic lights?

“These are the things I am going to be talking to Mr Lister about, and the Government.”

The stark message came as today marked one year since the death of 16-year-old Kijani Burgess.

The Bermuda Institute pupil died after a crash on Somerset Road, Sandys, his home parish.

His classmates rallied last year under the banner of Pain into Purpose, and appealed to the public to wear blue, Kijani’s favourite colour, as a show of road safety awareness.

Now the school’s class of 2021 has asked the public to do the same next Monday.

Silas Young, a Bermuda Institute pupil, said: “He was a close friend of mine and a classmate, but we want people to show awareness for all the people whose loved ones have passed away on the road in 2020 and now in the first weeks of 2021.

“It’s to give awareness of road fatalities and how dangerous our roads actually are.”

He added: “This year, with the accidents that have happened recently with young people, would like to do it again, so we confirmed with the Road Safety Council to hold it this Monday coming.

“We would like everyone to wear bright blue.”

Silas, who will turn 18 next month, said young people should “not take things for granted” and that entire families were devastated by roads deaths.

He added: “Getting there on time is not as important as getting there at all.”

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Published January 13, 2021 at 8:03 am (Updated January 13, 2021 at 7:52 am)

Tech could be key to cut in roads deaths

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