Operation Vega – police say ‘people are heeding warnings’
Almost 900 traffic tickets have been issued since the Bermuda Police Service launched an operation to crack down on road offences one month ago.
Police handed out 897 tickets under Operation Vega from June 6 to yesterday, August 6, compared to 718 over the same period in 2019 and 521 in 2018.
Of the offences committed, 309 were for speeding, 157 were for failing to obey traffic signs and 26 were for driving without a license.
Three people received tickets for displaying illegal number plates – an offence police are cracking down on in order for numberplate recognition technology to be able to function in speed cameras in the future.
Other offences included driving without insurance or registration and an additional 75 motorists were issued with warnings.
Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell said the figures indicated that Operation Vega was having an impact on driving behaviours.
He told The Royal Gazette: “Operation Vega has increased police visibility on roads and that causes people to drive more carefully. Certainly 897 offences will make a difference on people’s driving habits – when people see or hear about someone getting a ticket they pay attention to their own driving.
“Also with Operation Vega comes the messaging and education – we have been heavily featured in the press, broadcast and on social media. It is looking really good – I think it is a good sign.”
Over the month, police also recovered 14 stolen bikes and seven impaired drivers were arrested.
Mr Cardwell said there has been a reduction in collisions from January 1 to August 1 of this year.
Serious-injury collisions are down by 16 compared to 2019 while slight-injury collisions are down 80 on 2019 and down 101 from 2018.
Damage-only collisions are down by 97 compared to 2019 and by 139 compared to 2018.
Mr Cardwell added: “It shows what we can achieve when we put our mind to it, when we work collectively to achieve results. Operation Vega is not one unit – it is everybody – all operational police officers in the east, west and central parishes, the Roads Policing Unit, the police support unit, gang target unit and armed response vehicles – it’s most of the police services.
“Praise goes out to all my colleagues. We think we are on to something that it is having an impact on the number of collisions.
“Since I launched the operation, not as many people are calling me to complain about driving behaviours. People are heeding the warnings that we are giving.”
Despite the reduction in collisions there has been one more fatality up to August 1 – seven – compared to 2019 and 2018 which both had six up in the same person.
“We are one up on fatalities which is concerning and we certainly don’t want it to go any higher,” Mr Cardwell added.
Police launched an online portal as part of Operation Vega enabling members of the public to upload photos and video footage of traffic infringements. Since the operation launched five people have uploaded material.
Footage of an illegal numberplate led police to contact the vehicle’s owner and warn that their vehicle would be impounded if the plate was not replaced and they were caught on the road again.
Mr Cardwell said the number of illegal plates seen by police had dropped “dramatically”.
He said he was confident that the courts would be able to process the extra cases passing through.
Operation Vega is expected to run at its current capacity for about two more weeks at which point it will be reviewed to identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for more efficient roads policing going forward.
Mr Cardwell said it remains his hope that fixed penalty fines will be increased to $300 each “across the board”.
“We reviewed fixed penalty fines and consider them to be disproportionate. We recommended to the transport minister and Bermuda Road Safety Council that they increase them all to $300. We first raised this in 2015 – it made it into the Throne Speech but nothing ever happened.
“It is a really simple process – an application is made to the Chief Justice who agrees it, gazettes it and then it is in place.”