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No warning roadside breath tests could be on the cards

Roadside breath-test checkpoints could be set up without warning in the future, senior police officers warned yesterday.

Police said the proposal was being examined by the Government along with plans to rationalise fines for traffic offences as part of a bid to put the brakes on bad behaviour on the roads.

The Government is also likely to issue a request for proposal for hi-tech speed cameras and the Operation Vega crackdown on traffic offences is to become a permanent fixture.

Former Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley said he planned to raise the publication of checkpoints with the Government because giving notice “frustrates the process”.

Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell said yesterday: “I am aware the previous Commissioner did meet with the Minister of Transport and one thing was lifting the requirement for us to advertise.”

Mr Cardwell said the “disproportionate” fines system was also under review.

He highlighted the example of a 16 or 17-year-old rider being slapped with a $300 fine for carrying a pillion passenger, but a driver who ran a red light or a stop sign received a $50 fine.

Mr Cardwell added: ”We appealed to the minister to raise all fixed penalties so they are consistent.“

He added that the use of speed cameras had been raised during discussions with government departments about the island’s roadside CCTV network.

Mr Cardwell declined to give a timetable for their introduction.

But he said: “We’re fairly certain you are going to see speed cameras – I think we are going for a request for proposal fairly soon.”

Operation Vega was launched in July and scheduled to finish at the end of November.

Mr Cardwell said the decision to keep the operation running was made at police meetings with government departments about road safety.

He added: “It’s something we want all of our resources to engage in.

“When they are not attending calls for service, there is no down time.

“You have to get out there and police the roads.”

Mr Cardwell said statistics showed that Operation Vega had hit “the target offences – those that cause the most risk on our roads”.

Officers issued 3,371 tickets for traffic violations between July 1 and November 30 compared with 1,295 for the same period last year and 2,087 for 2019.

Mr Cardwell said: “That’s almost double for moving violations.”

But he added: “The unfortunate thing we saw with Operation Vega is it had no impact on collisions.

“We could not expect to police our way out of collisions.”

Statistics showed there were 85 serious injury collisions between January 1 to November 30 and 494 slight injury collisions.

The figures for the same time frame last year were 80 serious injuries and 423 minor injuries.

There were 100 serious injury collisions and 584 slight injury collisions over the same period in 2019.

Officers also issued 477 cautions from July to November – the Operation Vega time frame – compared with 239 in 2020 and 390 in 2019.

Mr Cardwell added that Operation Vega’s portal for the public to report bad driving had proved useful.

He said people with dashboard cameras had forwarded footage of bad behaviour on the roads as well as evidence of offences such as illegal licence plate numbers.

Mr Cardwell admitted he often heard complaints from the public that there was not a strong enough police presence on the roads.

He said: “I can’t answer to why that happens.

“In the last two weeks, we issued 486 moving violation tickets, so clearly we are on the road and policing the road.

“Our speed laser guns are in use every day and we have done further on their deployment.

“It used to be under the remit of the roads policing unit – the guys on bikes.

“We have now rolled them out across the service.”

He added that roadside breath-test checkpoints for the “traditionally busy period” of Christmas time will be gazetted on Monday.

The checks will run from December 20 to 26.

Acting Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons said: “The most frequently asked question I get is, why do police announce where and when they will conduct roadside sobriety checks?

“This is in fact a legislative requirement and clearly the Bermuda Police Service must operate in accordance with the law.”

But Mr Simons added that checkpoints would be mobile and set up in several locations across the island and police would move “from one location to another quite quickly”.

He warned road users: “Trying to defeat roadside sobriety checks, you’re probably going to lose.”

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Published December 04, 2021 at 7:32 am (Updated December 04, 2021 at 7:32 am)

No warning roadside breath tests could be on the cards

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