Roadside breath tests remain a priority
A commitment to the introduction of roadside breath tests is “a frontline priority”, despite no mention of road safety in the Budget statement.
Walter Roban, Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, said that handheld breathalysers were not highlighted in the Budget statement by David Burt, Premier and Minister of Finance, because it was a legislative measure covered in the Throne Speech.
Mr Roban pledged that the measure, designed to combat high levels of drink driving, was on the verge of making it into law.
He said: “From a legislative standpoint that is in train. We are about to deploy the process to get the legislation done.
“All parties, whether it be the Government's lawyers, the Bermuda Police Service or the ministry, are on the same page as to the direction, so we are full-steam ahead on our legislative priority.
“The police now are busy getting to grips with the equipment they will be using as we deploy roadside sobriety testing, doing the training so once the legislative measures are passed they can begin using the equipment.”
Mr Roban added: “In the changes we make, we have to include the specific equipment that is being used to do the testing.
“We are committed to getting it in place this legislative year and that is top of my list of legislation.
“That is what myself and Mr Caines have committed to, and my team here is driving to get it done.”
The Royal Gazette's Drive For Change road safety campaign has called for roadside breath tests as well as improved speed control technology and a graduated licensing programme for new road users.
Mr Roban said he could not comment on whether the testing would be non-selective to avoid accusations of profiling or if locations of roadside stops would be announced in advance.
Mr Roban added that the budget for the Bermuda Road Safety Council had been doubled to $25,000.
He said: “Our next priority is for the Road Safety Council to be even more assertive on public education and begin to impact driver behaviour.
“Their budget has been more than doubled from last year to enable them to carry out their objectives.
“We feel that we have equipped them well to do what they need to do for this calendar year and you should see more on these issues going forward for the fiscal year.”
A $3 million commitment to road works could also be used to improve road safety.
Mr Roban said an apparent 34 per cent drop in his cash allocation was explained by a restructure, which resulted in the ministry losing Tourism and Municipalities and gain Regulatory Reform, whose agencies are mostly self-funded.
He added: “I have the same amount of money to spend as I did last year. I will be doing a Budget press conference and will give more detail, but in terms of current spending, I have not had any decrease.
“The ministry was structured very differently in the previous financial year. That money has moved to where those departments have gone.”