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Drivers shown the cost of bad road habits

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Getting the message across: Lenny DeSilva and his daughter Bibi chat with police motorcyclists at the unveiling of the Road Safety Council’s campaign, “Changing Minds, Changing Behaviours”, at City Hall, Hamilton, at the start of International Road Safety Week (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Motorists are being urged to change their driving habits in an effort to rein in accidents and deaths on the roads.

The Bermuda Road Safety Council launched International Road Safety Week on the island yesterday by unveiling its campaign theme, “Changing Minds, Changing Behaviours”.

An audience at the steps of City Hall in Hamilton heard sobering statistics on the number of crashes — and fatalities — in recent years.

Nicole Hart, an emergency physician at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, has treated crash victims and has first-hand experience of the trauma that it can cause for both the injured and their relatives

Dr Hart said that 109 people were seriously injured in road crashes in 2022, adding: “Injuries ranged from multiple broken bones, loss of limbs, internal injuries, and severe head injuries, often resulting in long term pain and suffering.

“Imagine coming to the emergency department and being told your relative or friend has been killed in a road traffic accident.

“Imagine being in an accident and being told that you have lost your leg, or that you will never walk again.

“Imagine your relative being struck and killed by an impaired driver.”

Same hymn sheet: Wayne Furbert, the Minister of Transport, left, with Glen Smith, the managing director of Auto Solutions, Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford of the Bermuda Police Service, physician Nicole Hart, and Anthony Santucci of Cada at City Hall (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, called the annual event “a poignant reminder” of the ripple effect of accidents.

He said: “It is not just our own lives at stake when we drive carelessly. It is the lives of our loved ones, our neighbours and friends, and our entire community.

“We must embody the principle of being our brother’s keeper, recognising that our actions on the road extend far beyond ourselves.

“Irresponsible driving is not merely a risk, it is a potential tragedy that can shatter lives and cut lives short.

“Incredibly, our newspaper too often carries stories of young lives lost on our roads.

“Irresponsible driving encompasses more than just driving under the influence, and includes reckless behaviour, speeding, tailgating, and distractions behind the wheel.

“Cars and bikes are means of transport but they can also become incidents of tragedy if we fail to uphold our responsibilities as drivers.

“An accident can occur in the blink of an eye, in mere seconds. The Road Safety Council cannot tackle this problem alone.”

Wayne Furbert, the Minister of Transport, gave an impassioned speech, claiming that he was on a mission “to ignite a spark of change” in driver attitudes.

He said: “Sometimes we have to speak to the heart and soul of each one of us and ask ourselves the question — what kind of life do we want to live? What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind?

“Do we want to be known as people who care for each other, who respect the rules of the road, who value safety and responsibility?

“Or do we want to be known as people who take unnecessary risks, who disrespect the law, who endanger ourselves and others? The choice is our and the consequences are real.”

Mr Furbert said examples of poor driving were evident on the roads every day, adding: “This behaviour is alarming. Today I stand before you not just to highlight the grim reality but to ignite a spark of change within each of us.”

Mr Furbert pointed out that cases of driving under the influence had increased every year since 2021, adding: “These figures are distressing and the blatant disregard for safety is disheartening.

“As a community it is imperative that we each do our part to prevent further tragedies on our roads.”

Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford of the Bermuda Police Service said that 50 people had died on the roads since 2020, and that motorists had been recorded travelling at speeds of 100km/h.

He said: “These numbers are a wake-up call for all of us. Let us collectively embrace this year’s theme of changing minds, changing behaviours.”

Dennis Lister III, the chairman of the RSC, closed the presentation by announcing plans to make repeat offenders take a driving course, and for an association promoting safety of rental scooters to be created.

He said: “The Road Safety Council must lead the charge to raise standards of driving in Bermuda and these are the steps that must be taken to achieve it.

“In 2024, let’s pledge to break bad habits and behaviours. We must change our minds to think of safety first, being considerate of others and adhering to all road rules and signs.”

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Published May 07, 2024 at 5:53 pm (Updated May 08, 2024 at 7:54 am)

Drivers shown the cost of bad road habits

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