Increasing the speed limit may make us safer
For many years I have listened to the Bermuda Road Safety Council, the Government, the public and the police expressing grave concern over the atrocious behaviour on our roads and in particular to speeding. We have a speed limit of 35km/h in place on our rural road system. When speaking with friends overseas, we talk about Bermuda and sometimes we talk about vehicles on our roads. We talk about the types of vehicles that we have and then I mention that we have a 35km/h maximum speed limit on our roads.
This causes a certain amount of mirth within the conversation, but to cap it off, I then mention that a person doesn’t generally get pulled over by the police unless they are doing more than 55km/h. After a certain amount of raucous laughter and further discussion, the conversation eventually moves on.
It seems to me that, psychologically, people in Bermuda and, in particular, our younger population have little or no respect for our speed limit. This should come as no surprise to us when our existing speed limit is broken daily by the tune of approximately 20km/h. What message does that send to the younger population on our roads?
Quite frankly, it sends a clear message that the speed limits on our roads are only an indication and not necessarily meant to be adhered to. This has to be a bad message and results in speeds far in excess of 55km/h, providing a mental link to the message that is not lost on the young mind.
We all know that 35km/h is not a sensible speed for our roads, despite what some may think. If we adhered to the existing speed limit, things would never get done in a timely manner. This includes deliveries, taxis, construction and general daily travel to and from work. We are all driving at 50km/h to 55km/h and we are all accepting that this is an acceptable speed for Bermuda roads — and this includes the police. This being the case, we surely must accept that our speed limit is no longer appropriate for Bermuda today.
Now, before people jump all over me declaring that if we raise the speed limit, then people would just drive well above that. The answer to that is, no they won’t if we all agree that the police must do their job on all vehicles exceeding the speed limit by two or three kilometres per hour. And if the penalties for doing so are considerable fines and points on the licence, eventually resulting in the suspension of a driving licence for an extended period.
It is time to raise the speed limit in Bermuda, and it is time for the police to start enforcing the powers given to them under common legislation which are carried out in most world jurisdictions.
We need to increase our speed limit in the country to 50km/h with police interception at about 52km/h to 53km/h, which would allow for certain speedometer irregularities used in many jurisdictions. Speed reductions obviously would need to be made in the City, Flatts, Somerset, the Town of St George, etc, and possibly even in school districts. We can no longer think that it is acceptable to break our present speed limit and expect our young generation to know and/or realise that our speed limit is just a joke.
City of Hamilton
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