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Graphic road safety blitz starts

This photo was submitted by the Road Safety Council as part of its new safety campaign to reduce the number of road deaths and serious accidents. The family of the young person shown has granted approval for the photo to be used.

Graphic images of crash victims are to be used in a last-ditch effort by the Road Safety Council to shock motorists into driving safely.

The photographs are due to be placed in public restrooms, bars and restaurants across the Island this weekend as part of an aggressive guerrilla campaign which could lead to stricter driving laws.

It is hoped that the images – which show persons who were either seriously injured or who died on Bermuda's roads – will send a powerful message to those who drink and drive.

Road Safety Council chairman Christopher Johnson admitted the pictures are dramatic, but said they were chosen specifically for that reason – and with the backing of the families involved.

"We need to take a different approach as what we are doing currently is not working – no one is listening," he said.

"Our focus is on the young people, particularly young black men between 18 and 24-years-old, as it is easier to change their behaviours and they'll listen to each other."

The road safety watchdog warned hard-hitting measures could follow as the Council also intends to propose changes to the legislation which could serve as even stronger deterrents to drivers who drink.

These include placing breathalysers in Police cars and allowing officers to conduct random tests; mandatory attendance at Alcohol Anonymous meetings and driver re-education courses, mandatory advanced courses for persons taken off the road for offences involving alcohol or dangerous driving and impounding cars and motorcycles for the period of the offender's driving disqualification.

Such efforts received whole-hearted support from community stakeholders.

Said Remembering Our Loved Ones (R.O.L.O.) president Angel Nottingham: "We support their new campaign efforts because so far nothing has worked.

"As far as the pictures, I think it may be hard for family members that have already endured the pain, but if it can affect a dangerous road user in a positive way then I totally support it.

"If it can impact one person's life then that's one saved life."

The Police Service agreed.

"We believe that it's time for conventional and non-conventional approaches to saving lives," said a spokesperson.

"It is clear that something must change in our community and we stand behind the Road Safety Council as they try to capture the attention of our community and change behaviour.

"We believe if one life is saved it is worth it."

Popular bars canvassed by The Royal Gazette were equally supportive of the measures.

"I think this is a very good idea," said Southampton Rangers Sports Club president Randy Raynor: "Although clubs benefit from selling alcohol, patrons need to be more responsible when drinking.

"Sometimes people come up to the bar and ask for six drinks, the bartender does not know who the drinks are going to. It's devastating to know that someone was involved in an accident after they have left your bar."

Owner of Bootsie's Comedy Club, Bootsie said: "You may lose sales but save lives. So if I have to grade that policy, I give it thumbs up and I support it 100 percent."

Said Wade Simons of Hamilton Parish Workman's Club: "With all the accidents going on I think it's a good idea. My club is willing to support this idea.

"People need to exercise sensible drinking and sensible driving."

The Council raised the issues and discussed strategies in a meeting with Premier and Transport Minister Ewart Brown last week.

Said Dr. Brown at that time: "The statistics tell us that most of the problems we face with road safety are cultural. We have scores of teens who automatically get a motorbike at 16 without the requisite skills they need, and we have a community with a propensity for social alcohol consumption. Those are just a couple of our cultural realities.

"Our strategies and solutions must have cultural significance. Following this meeting I know the Road Safety Council agrees with me on that important point and I'm optimistic about our ability to evoke change."

What do you think of the Road Safety Council campaign? E-mail news@royalgazette.bm.