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Time to revisit driving instruction – not only for young newcomers

Dear Sir,

We have, yet again, received the tragic news of the passing of a young person on a motorised bike. We will never know exactly how this latest incident occurred, nor do we know how the many other crashes and deaths over the years happened.

Loved ones pay respect to 16-year-old Amber Bridges, the latest victim of Bermuda’s roads (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

What I do know is this: I am on the road almost every day and, like all of us, witness the most dangerous bike (and car) manoeuvres happening time and time again. Overtaking on both sides — often on blind corners and/or in front of opposing traffic — speeding, wheelies, texting and talking while driving, running red lights, tailgating, cutting off other drivers. The list goes on.

May I suggest that a more comprehensive driving instruction course be made available to Bermuda residents? For example, the Young Drivers of Canada programme is a driving instruction course that not only teaches the rules of the road, but also is greatly focused on “proactive driving habits that aim to train drivers to spot problems while driving and avoid them without having to react and … teaching evasive manoeuvres in those situations where you need to avoid a crash”.

The course includes defensive driving manoeuvres and techniques such as risk perception, gravel shoulder recovery, head-on collision avoidance, threshold and emergency braking, avoidance techniques, and many more.

The YDoC course includes 25 hours of in-class theory and a minimum of ten hours of private driving lessons. Because the course is so well respected, people who graduate are often eligible for vehicle-insurance discounts.

By comparison, Project Ride graduates can be eligible for insurance discounts as well. However, Project Ride offers only four hours of in-class training and eight hours of practical instruction. According to the Project Ride website, “Project Ride is an auxiliary cycle training course that enables teenagers to acquire their Bermuda Youth Licence.” There is little mention of safe or defensive driving techniques or accident avoidance. and it is available only to new, teenage drivers. Young Drivers is available to all new drivers, regardless of age. It seems to me that the primary focus of Project Ride is to teach you how to pass your test, not to learn how to drive safely and responsibly on Bermuda’s roads.

We all see the reckless and dangerous behaviour — every single day. Just three hours ago, I drove by an accident spot where a student on a bike was involved. Thankfully, it appeared that the young man wasn’t seriously injured. Defensive driving should be the main focus of any programme such as Project Ride, and something that comprehensive should also be offered to new Bermuda drivers, regardless of age.

I am appealing to the Department of Public Transportation to consider a change the Project Ride programme to focus more on defensive driving and less on just passing the test, and have copied this letter to the Minister of Transport, Lawrence Scott. I also encourage local driving instructors to include more comprehensive defensive-driving techniques as part of their training courses.

Heartfelt condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one on Bermuda’s roads. Drive safely, everyone.

JENNIFER CAMPBELL

Southampton

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Published June 05, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated June 04, 2021 at 3:20 pm)

Time to revisit driving instruction – not only for young newcomers

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