We need stricter traffic laws
February 10, 2013
There have been some excellent comments made recently in
The Royal Gazette by Dr Froncioni regarding road traffic crashes. The personal tragedies involved in these events are terrible.
However, the recent road safety statistics recently published in
The Royal Gazette contain a typical Bermudian misdirection. There is a category entitled ‘Bad Road Surfaces (wet road)’, the implication being that any traffic crash that occurs on a wet road is not the fault of the driver. More correctly this row should be labelled ‘Poor Driving’, or those crash numbers should be added to the ‘Inattention’ or ‘Inexperienced’ rows. In other words, you should drive at a speed appropriate for the conditions (whether wet road, sand on the road, a sharp curve, etc), else you have caused the crash. There is usually no legitimate reason why a wet road should cause a crash. This is why the worldwide official designation is now RTC (road traffic crash — they are not RTAs because they are not “accidents”).
We’re not told how many of the drivers listed in
The Royal Gazette in the above categories paid fines for their poor driving, “entering main road too carelessly”, “following too closely”, “inattention”, “inexperience” and “improper overtaking” — it should be most. How many drivers have been cited for speeding in the year? That’s likely a pretty small number.
In addition to the personal tragedies, the epidemic in Bermuda of bad riding and driving and excessive speed contributes large numbers to Bermuda’s healthcare costs. In a recent year’s statistics there were just under 1,980 road traffic accident victims transported by ambulance to the hospital — that’s over five per day, almost all are bike riders. Therefore, an entire ambulance and crew are employed full-time transporting RTA victims to hospital. Add up the cost of the ambulance, salary for two crew, maintenance, gas, etc. What do you think that does to Bermuda’s healthcare costs?
Of those RTA victims transported to hospital, almost 200 were admitted to the hospital, more than one every other day. What do you think that does to Bermuda’s healthcare costs?
More than one per month of these RTA victims needed to have emergency air evacuation off-island because of the severity of their injuries. An air-evacuation costs at least $15,000 simply for the flight. Add to that a minimum of $250,000 for the average stay for a serious trauma victim in an intensive care unit etc in a major metropolitan US hospital, and now you’re into serious money. And remember, not all of these victims have health insurance which will pay the costs, and even if they do, all of us will pay the costs eventually, one way or another.
The total for a year for all of these road traffic crashes and related costs probably comes to at least $5 million, and certainly more if you factor in lost productivity, etc. What do you think this does to Bermuda’s healthcare costs?
We’re all paying for this carnage. We wouldn’t have to if everyone drove slower, didn’t drive impaired, and drove more cautiously. We would if the Government and the police would enforce the traffic laws, but they haven’t. Why? It’s in the Tumin report on the criminal justice system in Bermuda (1992) which recommended a lenient approach to traffic law enforcement. Is it better if our speeders eventually kill themselves or other innocent road users, or pay fines and go to goal?
Every time I’m passed (in either direction) by someone driving in excess of 80kph, which is not that uncommon in Bermuda for cars or bikes, I know that some simple thing like a bit of sand or a dog running into the street could end up in a head-on collision with that idiot. That is why all of us are being disrespected by the speeders and passers on blind turns!
I’m disrespected every day that I’m on the roads by their callous disregard for my rights on the road and in my health insurance costs.
The Government bus drivers are offenders also, often driving above the speed limit in the largest vehicles on the road. Bus drivers should get one warning for speeding on the job and then be sacked for a repeat offence. They’re risking my life every time they speed past me.
Don’t blame the healthcare system for these traffic accident costs. They are the responsibility of the Bermuda driving and riding public, and the non-enforcing Government and police.
Simply, Bermuda needs strict traffic law enforcement to keep our young men alive, and the collection of the fines would easily pay for it, and help the government and health finances.