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Reckless speeding and overtaking should concern every Bermudian

If there was some way of recording every close call on our roads through reckless and aggressive attitudes by some drivers and riders, statistics each day would probably be so high, one would think we are talking about a larger country. The truth is that there appears to be a culture, which has been brewing for years, by some who take to our narrow, winding roads without regard for basic traffic rules that are designed to promote safety for all.

This is a problem that should concern the entire Bermudian community, and is an issue that never seems to fade, despite warnings from the police and community leaders.

In dealing with this very serious problem, we should be careful not to paint the entire motoring public with the same brush. There are drivers and riders who exercise proper caution and care daily when encountering heavy traffic. That really needs to be encouraged because improvement here would make our roads far safer and a pleasure to use.

With the warmer months fast approaching, and the expected influx of thousands of visitors, many of whom will be here for the America’s Cup, putting Bermuda in the global spotlight, we all want our island to be seen as very special. The roads will not be any wider and there will be no change in the many tricky curves that even Bermudians find challenging while moving about.

Our bus drivers should be given astronaut status for getting those vehicles with passengers to their destinations daily, even as they deal with the problem of overtaking and speeding.

Over the years there have been many traffic incidents that have resulted in loss of life, and in a small society such as ours, most of the island feels a part of that loss. There are many causes for various mishaps — from mechanical to inattention, or in some cases not being fully alert as result of a medical condition or being under the influence of a product that affects judgment.

In addition to those possible causes, the hyper-fast pace of life today, and the attendant economic pressures, could be creating levels of stress that may be affecting some more than others.

That certainly is not an easy problem to solve, but it should not be viewed as just a part of modern life with no likely changes soon. Too often it seems warnings issued via radio, newspaper and television appear not to be reaching a certain segment, and is more like preaching to the choir. When the pressure is really on during peak periods, with people getting to work in the city, or when leaving after a day’s work, there is tension with too many trying to beat traffic lights or overtake anyone whom they consider is moving too slowly. This happens every single day.

Another concern is that emergencies occur at any time of day, and this can be truly a challenge for drivers of emergency vehicles, who are aware that time is vital in reaching someone in need of urgent medical attention. It is disturbing to observe some motorists waiting until an ambulance is upon them before slowing or pulling to the roadside.

We see these things and feel a little helpless because police cannot be everywhere to monitor such conduct.

This summer there will be many visitors already familiar with our roads, and if predictions hold, there will be an increase of visitors getting their first Bermuda experience.

If only we could collectively set out to discourage reckless and somewhat hostile attitudes on our roads, the likelihood of serious mishaps would at least be diminished.

There will always be accidents, but with a greater effort to drive or ride with the utmost responsibility for safety and obeying traffic rules, our island will be much safer.

Whenever this subject is discussed, there is usually the suggestion that more severe punishment through tougher laws should be implemented to grab the attention of those who insist on doing their own thing, creating danger for every road user.

There are children and the elderly who use our roads, and every life on the island is special. Overtaking and reckless speeding should be a matter of concern for every Bermudian who values the precious gift of life.

Together, if we think more about this dangerous practice, there is a possibility a life somewhere will be saved.

This is not a time to sit back waiting for police to remedy the situation. It is a time for every rider or driver to think twice before doing anything that is outside of rules for safety.

Bermuda is a beautiful place and we all want to enjoy that beauty in an atmosphere of peace and safety.