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Police, campaigners urge care over holiday

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Safety appeal: from left, Anthony Santucci, Cada executive director; Erica Rance Mill, Road Safety Council chairwoman; and Chief Inspector Nicholas Pedro (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Police and campaigners have been spreading a road safety message ahead of the public holiday.

The Road Safety Council is urging drivers to take more care, especially as summer has traditionally witnessed more accidents.

The May 24 holiday, on Tuesday, is regarded as the unofficial start of summer and, according to the council’s chairwoman Erica Rance Mill, it also “unfortunately signifies a period where historically we notice an increase in road traffic collisions and fatalities”.

“Sadly, this is a trend that we have become too comfortable with and it is the goal of the Bermuda Road Safety Council to educate the public as well as find long term solutions that will decrease these numbers,” she said.

The council is appealing to drivers to “think about their driving habits and the choices made when driving and make better decisions while driving or riding bikes”.

They are repeating a police plea that motorists pay more attention.

Ms Rance Mill said: “We can adhere to the speed limit at all times. We can remove all outside distractions while driving or riding (put that mobile phone out of reach).

“We can fasten our helmets correctly to ensure their proper use. We can ensure that our children are secured in the rear seats of the vehicle — in properly constructed child seats.

“We can ensure that we do not engage in driving/riding while under the influence of alcohol or any form of drug. We can talk to our friends and family — a simple conversation could save a life.

“Please don’t get so caught up in the holiday that you allow road safety to take a back seat in your celebrations. Road safety should be your priority every time that you enter our roads by foot, cycle, car or bike.”

Anthony Santucci, the chairman of Cada, pointed to 63 road deaths in the past six years, including four so far this year.

“We know that 75 per cent of these road traffic fatalities, alcohol, and or drugs, were involved,” Mr Santucci said. “Against the backdrop of these sobering statistics, I am here to remind the public that if they plan to consume alcohol during the May 24 holiday celebrations, to always use bus, cab or designated driver — A, B, C, D.

“Take the bus — buses will be operating per the Sunday schedule on May 24 — or put the phone numbers of cab drivers you know into your mobile phone and when you are ready to go home call one of them.

“Or arrange for someone in your party who is not drinking to be your designated driver.”

He added that the taxi service Hitch was an option, as well as the “Let Us Drive” service which has so far taken home more than 14,000 people.

Chief Inspector Nicholas Pedro offered advice on water safety.

“You will be aware that this weekend marks the unofficial start to summertime activities on the water,” he said.

“Therefore, along with the Bermuda Reserve Police, there will be a visible law enforcement presence on our waterways.

“We would like to remind the boating public to ensure that their vessels are registered, that a current 2017 decal is prominently displayed on the starboard side of the vessel, that all required safety equipment is on board, and that they are carrying enough fuel for the intended journey.

“It is also recommended that boaters file a float plan and certainly so, if they intend to go offshore.

“Members of the boating public should always exercise care and caution around other vessels and be on the lookout for swimmers. Speed is an issue not only in maritime collisions, but in the general nuisance factor that is experienced by boaters at anchor near the shoreline. To that end, the five-knot, no wake areas will be strictly enforced in order to calm the marine traffic.

“We also encourage that persons do not mix any use of alcohol with powerboat operating or sailing.”

Plea to drivers: Bermuda Road Safety Council chairwoman Erica Rance Mill (Photograph by Akil Simmons)