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Wrong for police to have one hand tied behind their backs on roadside sobriety checks

Driving on Bermuda roads has become more dangerous, while police are fighting outdated legislation (File photograph)

Dear Sir,

I read with a sense of dismay the article on roadside sobriety testing.

I have been a fractional owner on this beautiful island for some eight years. To that end, my wife and I spend up to six weeks a year here. As part of our holiday, we always hire a Twizzy and travel extensively throughout the island.

During these past years, we have noticed how much more dangerous the roads have become. The smell of cannabis wafting from cars is commonplace; the poor standard of driving never fails to surprise me and the speed of some vehicles is frighteningly fast for such narrow roads with an alleged speed limit of 35km/h. Although not condoning speeding, if you drive at 35, you put yourself in more danger from the frustration of 90 per cent of islanders. These include your so called “professional drivers” — buses and taxis alike.

How intimidating!

As a British magistrate, it beggars belief that the police have to go “cap in hand” to a senior magistrate to set up a police checkpoint in the name of road safety, law and order. Furthermore, they have to publish when and where it’s taking place — nothing like tying one hand behind their backs! Surely we all should be batting from the same pitch and stop putting up “roadblocks” — no pun intended — for the police to navigate. The element of surprise should always be the ace card for any law enforcement agency when battling those intent on breaking the law and, more so, when it endangers the lives of others.

Only today (September 17, 2022), a resident and friend told me that she had been run down in Hamilton by a scooter rider, who then angrily remonstrated to the poor woman lying on the road. The rider had been cutting down the outside of a line of stationary traffic.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve witnessed “driving without due care and attention” or, even worse, “dangerous driving”, it would pay for my flight … well, maybe not with British Airways. Perhaps this is why the death rate on Bermudian roads is so high.

How are you ever going to educate road users, especially young riders — in my opinion, as a motorcyclist, the worst offenders — if you allow them to ride and drive with a sense of impunity? Education and the fear of being caught are proven tools in reducing crime and, hopefully, deaths.

The occasional published checkpoint is a “sticking plaster” solution to a major road safety issue. The powers that be should heed the request made by Stephen Corbishley, former Commissioner of Police, to “reform the law”. Perhaps this should be more of a priority than the legalisation of cannabis, a crass decision that can only exacerbate the drug-driving issue this island already has.

On a final note, as we travel the island and, particularly en route to St George’s, we notice the endless roadworks laying new services; a necessary task indeed. However, the quality of the post-repair work leaves something to be desired. Rippled, uneven tarmac, over and unfilled trenches leading to, at a minimum, an uncomfortable ride and increased wear and tear of vehicles. At worst-case scenario, a dangerous road surface capable of throwing riders, reduced braking action with increased risk during rain.

To be blunt, I wouldn’t ask these contractors to ice a cake, never mind tarmac a road. Does anyone have the authority to impose any form of quality control or are they just poorly written contracts full of holes?


Bury St Edmunds

Suffolk, England

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Published September 21, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated September 21, 2022 at 7:55 am)

Wrong for police to have one hand tied behind their backs on roadside sobriety checks

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