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Death of Marco Warren is on us

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Police at the scene of the hit-and-run that claimed the life of top footballer Marco Warren on Sunday

The tragic death of footballer Marco Warren has raised many questions. Most prominent among them is, how could someone leave a fellow human in the road to die when a phone call to emergency services placed however many minutes or hours earlier might have made the difference between life and death?

For such callous disregard for life, presumably in the interest of self-preservation, every man, woman and child of legal driving age in this country should look themselves in the mirror and offer an apologetic mea culpa to the Warren family — for this is who and what we have become as a people, and we have to own it.

The disintegration of the driving culture in this country to one where civility has been “overtaken” by a me-first mentality has reaped untold grief. And yet still we carry on as though life is a given when in reality it is not.

As was the case in the Senate on Wednesday, it will be no surprise during the Congratulatory and Obituary Speeches phase of the House of Assembly this morning when MP after MP rises to their feet to be associated with remarks paying tribute to the life of the deceased PHC captain and Bermuda midfielder.

However well-meaning their intentions may be — and some may be more impassioned than others in imploring the culprit or culprits to come forward — these words are of cold comfort to anyone who has experienced traumatic loss on our roads without biting action to come in the immediate aftermath.

This episode has been on rinse and repeat for far too long, to the extent that police reports of crashes that leave victims with injuries that are not life-threatening and those that are have become melded into one to be dispatched into the folder called “Any Other Business”.

That is how our public have reacted collectively to the many tragedies and near-misses on our roads. Care if it directly affects them, but otherwise couldn’t care less.

There has not been a single tip provided to the police to assist in the investigation into the death of Marco Warren (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Marco Warren notwithstanding, just in the past week we have had two motorbike riders involved in a head-on crash in Southampton — one of whom has been flown overseas for emergency surgery — a car overturning in Warwick after hitting a wall, a bike crashing into a turning car at a junction in Devonshire, and a truck ending in foliage on the wrong side of the road after crashing into a utility pole.

Most of these incidents were in broad daylight when poor visibility could not be used in mitigation. The truth of the matter is that these and the majority of other offences boil down to poor driving and an openly blatant lack of regard for fellow road users, and law and order in general.

From reckless overtaking and “undertaking”, to third-lane driving, to driving while operating handheld devices despite the threat of a mandatory $500 fine, to idling on the wrong side of the road at stoplights hoping to jump the queue, to arbitrary use of indicators, to running red lights with impunity, the offences are numerous and seemingly part of the accepted protocol of everyday life on the mean streets of paradise. And that’s even before we get to driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol — a national pastime.

Our legislators can do more to give law enforcement the powers to better police our roads, and it is worth investigating what it really is that the Bermuda Road Safety Council does other than send out soundbites that are patently ignored. Worth a deep dive. But, otherwise, the hands of the Bermuda Police Service are tied.

They can do only what they can with the decreased budget and lack of manpower, but the crash numbers staring them in the face make for truly depressing reading.

This is meant to be Road Safety Week 2023. Look outside — who cares?

Any noticeable difference in driving practices since the launch of the six-point action plan?

None. Nada.

At the end of the day, this is on us as a people. It can be of no surprise to anyone that those involved in the death of Marco Warren have yet to come forward.

Not when we as a society so readily accept the inevitability of a driving culture that ranks us among the worst in the world for lives lost per 1,000 people.

Not when the police arrive at disturbances and those who have not already fled the scene put on their best Stevie Wonder impersonations.

Not when we enshrine in law that the police must publish in advance notice of roadside sobriety checkpoints.

Crash statistics between 2019 and the end of 2022 (Courtesy of the Bermuda Police Service)

There have been five lives lost this year already, comfortably keeping pace with the 11 in 2022. A bigger picture reveals that since the beginning of 2019, we have lost 49 people to crashes on our roads.

Minus the first four-plus months of this year, what the police consider to be serious injury collisions total a staggering 426. And overall over that time frame, including “slight injury collisions” and “damage collisions”, the number is 5,061 — or 1,265.25 per year, 105.44 per month, 24.33 per week, 3.48 per day.

From the beginning of 2006, 206 families have had to bury their loved ones — in most cases their children — after losing a street battle that no one wins but the streets.

Forget about emigration, the greatest exodus of our people is on our roads and then to the undertakers. On little else did national security minister Michael Weeks speak with great lucidity when commenting in March on the state of affairs, but he was spot-on to declare we are in the midst of a national crisis.

It has been five days since a champion footballer was found unresponsive on a poorly lit stretch on North Shore Road, in Hamilton Parish, a few minutes’ walk from his home. As can be seen from the many tributes, Marco Warren was very well liked in the football community and beyond. However, as of time of going to press, the police had received not a single tip that could shed light on the incident that brought his sad demise.

Today it is Marco Warren, tomorrow — on the evidence of the damning statistics provided by the BPS — it could be anyone. Surely, there is no other place to look for what we have become than in the mirror.

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Published May 19, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated May 19, 2023 at 2:32 pm)

Death of Marco Warren is on us

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