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Police: individual responsibility required on roads

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Critical issue: Bermuda Police Service officers Acting Superintendent Arthur Glasford, Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell and Inspector Kenten Trott (Photograph by The Royal Gazette staff)

Police highlighted the need for personal responsibility on the island’s roads as the latest figures for an ongoing traffic enforcement campaign were released.

The Operation Vega statistics showed that 639 speeding offences were recorded in the first quarter of 2024 and 110 people were found to be driving without a licence.

Officers also noted 118 instances of unlicensed vehicles and 107 motorists with no third party insurance.

Inspector Kenten Trott, who is among tactical division officers that monitor motorist behaviour on the island’s roads, said: “There are people that would see the police bike and overtake a bike on the inside or create a third lane, then when I stop them they are angry at me.

“They say ‘everybody does it’. I would encourage everybody to take personal responsibility.”

He added that during a speed-check session last Wednesday from 10am to noon, speeds were recorded of 72km/h, 78km/h and even over 80km/h.

Acting Superintendent Arthur Glasford said that adding speed detection software to the island’s upgraded CCTV network — planned for a later phased of the government programme — would be a “key moderator” for driver behaviour.

“Having 24-hour coverage will give the impression that big brother is watching you at all times,” he added.

Operation Vega was launched in July 2021 to crack down on the most prevalent driving offences and police have released regular updates on their efforts.

Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell explained last week that as the island emerged from the toughest grips of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2021, an increase in collisions was noted.

He said: “However, we saw more collisions in 2022 than we saw in 2021, and the figures for 2023 show that there are fewer collisions than in 2022.

“So Operation Vega was launched on the heels of these collisions going up and the ethos behind it was that if you increase traffic enforcement it would have an impact on the number of collisions.”

Data provided by the Bermuda Police Service to The Royal Gazette showed that in 2021 there were 1,263 collisions, including 17 fatal; in 2022 there were 1,363, of which 11 were fatal; and last year’s total was 1,090, with 13 fatal collisions.

Mr Cardwell said the level of traffic enforcement was higher than ever in the BPS and that the campaign garnered huge momentum, with its title and aim familiar to residents.

He highlighted four actions that contribute to collisions:

• overtaking on the inside: an accident can happen if another motorist then turns left

• creating a third lane: said to be prolific with motorcyclists, particularly in rush hour; accidents can happen when another motorist turns right

• not using indicators: causes confusion for other road users

• speeding: a well-established contributor to collisions

Mr Cardwell said Operation Vega held people accountable for bad behaviour on the roads.

The exercise takes a “no surprises” approach and police use social media or other means to publicise patrols.

Mr Cardwell said: “Impaired driving is another thing that we are keeping a very close eye on because we have seen those numbers increase gradually over the years.”

BPS figures showed that the number of impaired driving offences recorded by police in 2021, 2022 and 2023 were 170, 229 and 265 respectively.

In the first quarter of 2024, another 39 instances were noted.

Mr Cardwell said that despite roadside sobriety checkpoints, which began in September 2018, motorists continued to drive while under the influence of alcohol or, detected less often, drugs.

“We catch more people impaired driving when there is no roadside sobriety [checkpoint] than when there is,” he noted.

The BPS said that talks continued with the Government to remove the requirement for advance notice of the checkpoints — when any motorist can be stopped by police.

A roadside sobriety checkpoint (File photograph)

Mr Cardwell added: “When we are doing roadside sobriety checks, people know we are out there doing it and I think that has an impact on whether or not people drink and drive. I think they think twice about getting behind the wheel after they’ve had a drink.

“If that was an authority that the police had all the time, is that something that would be ingrained into the public’s mind — that at any given time they could be stopped for a roadside sobriety check?”

A BPS spokesman also highlighted the need for motorists to be responsible for their own actions.

He said: “How would you feel knowing that somebody got in to a vehicle after having had a few beers, driving drunk and took out a member of your family?

“Or speeding, riding recklessly and took out a member of your family? People have to take personal accountability.”

Mr Cardwell said that there was a great deal of disparity in road traffic legislation and a police proposal was submitted to the Government to set all fixed penalty notices for traffic offences at $300.

Mr Trott, who sits on the Road Safety Council, highlighted collaborative efforts between the RSC and the BPS, with education starting “from the very bottom” in nursery schools.

He highlighted increased presentations to primary school pupils so that good driving behaviours might be ingrained from a young age.

Mr Glasford pointed out that as well as education and enforcement, engineering could be a factor in collisions.

“The state of our roads has had an impact as well, just wear and tear,” he said.

Mr Cardwell added: “You have people swerving to avoid potholes and end up getting in to a collision."

Mr Glasford said that efforts to improve driving behaviour were included in a global plan developed by the World Health Organisation and UN Regional Commissions to support the international Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, which was launched with a target to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by at least 50 per cent in the ten years.

The document, published in October 2021, said: “The Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 rejects business as usual and calls on governments and stakeholders to take a new path – one that prioritises and implements an integrated safe system approach that squarely positions road safety as a key driver of sustainable development.”

Mr Glasford said: “The BPS realises road safety is a critical issue.”

He added: “We are putting a lot of focus into those areas and the community can play a part by reporting areas where bad driving is occurring.”

The BPS operates a portal where members of the public can report incidents and upload images or footage.

It can be found at portal.police.bm where there is a section for “Op Vega - Traffic”.

Crime stats pending

The Bermuda Police Service hoped to publish annual figures for the past three years in the second and fourth quarters of 2024.

Year End Crime Statistics were available on the BPS website yesterday for 2009 to 2020.

A police spokesman told The Royal Gazette: “It is anticipated that crime statistics for the aforementioned periods [2021, 2022 and 2023] will be completed and ready for release in the second and fourth quarters of 2024.

“The aim being to have the 2021 figures ready for release by August 2024, the 2022 figures by October 2024 and lastly, the 2023 figures by December 2024.”

He added: “The Bermuda Police Service has made positive strides in recording, managing and reporting on core policing activity, with the focus on accurate public reporting at the sacrifice of timeliness.

“This is due mainly to our continued focus on meeting the demands of front line policing as we recover from the unusual and extenuating circumstances which we faced with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The reassigning of all but essential staff to front line policing resulted in a delay in the tabulation of crime statistics.”

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Published April 08, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated April 08, 2024 at 8:33 am)

Police: individual responsibility required on roads

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