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Road safety body eyes refresher courses for mature drivers

Dennis Lister III, chairman of the Bermuda Road Safety Council (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Refresher courses that would allow experienced motorists to brush up on their skills are under consideration by the Bermuda Road Safety Council, its chairman said this week.

Dennis Lister III added that the programmes could be offered on a voluntary basis with a view to potentially making them mandatory if they proved successful.

He said: “We are looking to put in place a mature drivers’ re-education course; it’s something that we have to do in tandem with the Ministry of Transport.

“What we’re looking to do is to try to have it as voluntary: every so often, encourage people to come in, take a course to update and refresh their driving practices or their knowledge of driving.

“If a person gets their driver’s licence at 18, they don’t have to retake a driving test until they go 65.

“We’re trying to break that up and whether it’s every ten years or five years, voluntarily, we’ll get you to come in and refresh.

“That is something that we’re still in the works of how to implement, but that is to capture the mature and experienced drivers.”

The chairman added that after the courses were under way, “hopefully then it becomes something mandatory, based off the success of the initiative”.

Mr Lister, who is a Progressive Labour Party MP, said support and resources would be required from the transport ministry to introduce the programme, and talks continued.

The BRSC’s education work already includes age-appropriate presentations for pupils from preschool to high school.

Mr Lister noted that the Junior Road Safety Council was made up of people aged from 14 to 20 and the latest cohort had members from across most of the island’s high schools.

He explained: “We use them as ambassadors in their school.

“As an example, coming up later this month at CedarBridge Academy is a road safety day that will be put on by the Junior Road Safety Council representatives from CedarBridge.

“They took it upon themselves to put this day forward, so they worked with teachers and reached out to some other stakeholders to try to bring this day to fruition."

Mr Lister noted that teenagers and young adults can often connect more effectively with others their age than would be possible for older adults.

“As we can see, the young people are passionate,” he added. “They do benefit because they are listening to their friends.”

Mr Lister welcomed plans to develop Project Ride, the government-run youth motorcycle training scheme, so that participants will have on-road instruction.

Previously, the programme enabling teenagers to acquire their Bermuda Youth Licence was restricted to the confines of the parking lot at the Transport Control Department.

The BRSC chairman said: “What has been found is that young people, at 15½ they start Project Ride, they complete it at 16, but the first time they get on the roads is after they get their licence.

“Even if they’ve done Project Ride they might still be a little unsteady.

“By changing it — now you’re getting on-road training under the supervision of a teacher — that way their first experience on the main road won’t be once they get their licence.”

He added: “We support that and we hope that does make a difference in the behaviours of young people going forward.”

Mr Lister explained that the Road Safety Council was a supervisory organisation, which was not provided with powers to make changes for the island’s road users.

He added: “We are just legislated to recommend and suggest, as a lobby body, so we use that to our full strength to lobby for change, whether it’s legislative or something as simple as we see that there needs to be signs or some better road paving put down — we will lobby with the relevant body to see that actually happen.”

In a message to drivers and riders, Mr Lister said: “We call and ask for all motorists to remember how their actions impact others on the roads.

“It always comes down to personal choice and responsibility — making sure that we choose to do the right things, choose to follow all road signs and all laws.

“By everyone doing what they can it will have a knock-on effect, on hopefully keeping our roads safer.”

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Published April 11, 2024 at 7:45 am (Updated April 11, 2024 at 8:10 am)

Road safety body eyes refresher courses for mature drivers

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