Safety campaigner: Covid-19 caused speeding increase
Speeding has soared in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown, a road safety campaigner and doctor warned last night.
Joseph Froncioni, an orthopaedic surgeon, said he would “absolutely” back a return to old-fashioned deterrence with police equipped with radar guns on a regular basis to catch speeders.
He said: “The average speed has gone up tremendously.
“For whatever reason, in the last six months, everyone is going faster.”
Dr Froncioni added: “I gather from my friends in police that we have had a decrease in collisions. Five deaths this year is attributable to the pandemic.”
But he warned: “If people keep speeding, we are going to go back to our norm.”
Dr Froncioni emphasised his comments were unrelated to two fatal crashes in succession last Thursday and Friday nights as the circumstances were still unknown.
A 45-year-old man died after his bike hit a wall on Spice Hill Road in Warwick on Friday night.
A 47-year-old man was killed after his motorbike was in collision with a car at the junction of Town Hill Road and Harrington Sound Road in Smith’s.
Dr Froncioni said rampant speeding since early this year had emerged as “an important topic” that had to be tackled.
He highlighted the success of roadside breath test checkpoints, which he said had made a “huge difference” in Bermuda’s drink-driving culture – and predicted that could be repeated with speeders.
Dr Froncioni added: “If you convince people there’s a great likelihood they will be caught, you deter them.”
But Dr Froncioni admitted he had caught himself hitting the accelerator harder than he did before Covid-19.
He said: “There’s no question about it. It’s fact.”
The road safety expert, who has campaigned for speed cameras for years, said the probable explanation for a downturn in driving behaviour was the lack of traffic on the roads over the Covid-19 lockdown – which had encouraged speeding.
Dr Froncioni added: “The problem is, people are driving faster on roads that haven’t changed. They have always been narrow and winding, with no run off areas.
“Our roads are 95 per cent bordered by private land. There’s no way to create that run off area.
“If you increase the speed, you’re increasing the number of collisions.”
Dr Froncioni said the introduction of mandatory crash helmets in the 1970s had cut the toll of death and injury on the roads.
But he added the 1992 Tumin Report, an examination of social problems in Bermuda, was key to a reduction in earlier strict policing of the roads, including police officers manning radar traps.
But he said that the report found that police officers were “really tough” on young black men.
Dr Froncioni added it was an “era of hard, unfair policing”.
He said: “The Government took the Tumin Report to heart and completely decreased the number of road cops.”
But he added: “When the cat’s away, the mice play.
“Now we’re living in an era where the speeding has increased.
“We’re going to get back to the same death rate unless we can get it back down.”