“Road Safety A Matter Of National Importance”

January 14, 2015

unnamed dunk crock[Updated with video] Premier Michael Dunkley and  Minister of Tourism Development & Transport Shawn Crockwell held a press conference today [Jan 14] to both urge the community to drive safely, as well as provide an overview of some of the measures the Government plans to try and take to improve road safety.

This follows after a spate of collisions, four of which have resulted in deaths in the past few weeks: 59-year-old Richard Thomas died following a collision on Jan. 12, 33-year-old Jereme Cumbermack died due to a collision on Jan. 5, 19-year-old Stephen Edwards died after a collision that occurred on Dec. 30, 2014, while 62-year-old Timothy Wright died following a two-vehicle collision on Dec. 31, 2014.

Minister Shawn Crockwell said they are currently considering three legislative changes, saying they will be proceeding with implementing roadside sobriety testing and will make amendments to the legislation, are exploring the use of speed cameras, and will be looking at “beefing up various fines for infractions.”

In addition, the Minister said they are planning a Road Safety Summit for later in the month, which he said “will involve an array of stakeholders” and will see a “meaningful conversation going with the objective of finding some tough solutions to this grave problem.”

Update: 20-minute video of the full press conference

Premier Dunkley said, “While it may not be the Government’s sole responsibility to fix all of the issues in this area, I believe that it is our responsibility to set the tone for change.

“We must legislate prudently, support strong, sustained enforcement and commit to a process of education that ingrains safe driving habits at the earliest opportunity.

“As the Minister of National Security I have indicated to the Commissioner of Police that he has this Government’s full support for the implementation of a renewed strategy to strengthen roads policing.”

“Stronger enforcement is just one of the tools available to assist all of us in enjoying safer roads in Bermuda,” added the Premier. “Personal responsibility is the single most important factor in ensuring safe roads.”

The Premier asked all drivers and riders in Bermuda to start with a personal check of their own road use saying we must stop gambling with traffic lights, must secure our children in properly fitted car seats as required by law, must fasten seat belts and helmet straps, must slow down and obey the speed limit, must not create the “third lane” and must not drink and drive.

Premier Michael Dunkley’s full statement follows below:

Good Afternoon and thank you for coming.

Tragically, several Bermudian families are mourning the sudden loss of loved ones who have met untimely deaths on our roads.

It is never an easy task to express condolences to grieving families but it is almost impossible to find words to comfort those who have lost parents, children or siblings as a result of events that are so unexpected.

As a community we can only offer our thoughts, prayers and sympathy as they come to terms with such tragic losses in their family circle.

My colleague the Minister of Tourism Development and Transport joins me today [Jan 14] and I know he shares my concern and the concerns of the people of Bermuda about the causes, results and effects of this spike in road deaths.

This is a matter of national importance and it requires a significant commitment of resources, political will and administrative action to begin reversing the dangerous trends that have crept into all our habits when using the roads.

While it may not be the Government’s sole responsibility to fix all of the issues in this area, I believe that it is our responsibility to set the tone for change.

We must legislate prudently, support strong, sustained enforcement and commit to a process of education that ingrains safe driving habits at the earliest opportunity.

As the Minister of National Security I have indicated to the Commissioner of Police that he has this Government’s full support for the implementation of a renewed strategy to strengthen roads policing.

Basic offences must be addressed as a means by which to instill a respect for the rules of the road and greater awareness of the need for personal safety on the part of all motorists.

Already community partners are reaching out to support the Government’s efforts.

I am especially grateful to Bermuda Press Holdings Ltd., the parent company of the Royal Gazette, who has indicated their willingness to participate in a dedicated campaign to encourage safe driving habits and to create an awareness of the importance of safe road use to the community.

We will be working with them, and others who have reached out to us, to develop this campaign and to quickly capitalize on the attention this issue is receiving, unfortunately as a result of these tragic circumstances.

To borrow a phrase from the public discussion on gang violence, we cannot arrest our way of this problem.

Stronger enforcement is just one of the tools available to assist all of us in enjoying safer roads in Bermuda.

Personal responsibility is the single most important factor in ensuring safe roads.

That personal responsibility extends to using good judgment.

The use of seat belts is mandatory in Bermuda as is the fastening of a helmet chin-strap.

Over time however, our attitude to these basic safety requirements has become lax and we often act as if it is optional.

This is one example of a local trend that must be reversed to give a fighting chance to those who are involved in genuine accidents to minimize the risk of serious injury or death.

With the Road Safety Council and responsibility for transport within his remit, I will invite the Minister to outline those initiatives this Government will pursue in the coming legislative session and beyond to also address the issue of safe road use in our community.

In closing, I challenge all drivers and riders in Bermuda to start with a personal check of their own road use.

  • We must stop gambling with traffic lights.
  • We must secure our children in properly fitted car seats as required by law;
  • We must fasten seat belts and helmet straps
  • We must slow down and obey the speed limit
  • We must not create the “third lane”
  • We must not drink and drive.

Thank you.

-

Minister Shawn Crockwell’s full statement follows below:

Good afternoon and thank you for coming.

Let me start by offering my sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Richard Thomas, our latest road fatality … my thoughts and prayers are with them.

It is never easy to try and find the right words of comfort for a family dealing with the sudden death of a loved one and of late it is a more frequent occurrence for so many of us.

As the Minister responsible for Transport, road safety is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. I am very concerned about the significant amount of road fatalities; one death on our roads is too many . . . this loss of life has a profound impact on all of us.

Along with road deaths, there are a large number of road collisions in Bermuda that do not result in loss of life but quite a few are very serious and some result in permanent disabilities.

All of this is cause for grave concern in this community and we can all agree that there is an urgent need for more action.

Bermuda we need to improve our driving techniques, we must change our driving behaviours and we MUST end the culture of driving under the influence.

Here are some of the core issues we have with road safety in Bermuda.

  • in-attentive driving,
  • speeding,
  • driving under the influence,
  • using a mobile device while driving,
  • taking unnecessary risks,
  • poor judgement,
  • lack of adequate driving skills,
  • driving without care, caution and consideration for others,
  • And a total disregard for the rules of the road.

So what are the solutions?

In order to improve road safety there is a role for each of us to play. The Government has its role and our motorists have theirs.

Obviously the Government can legislate all we want but that can only get us so far.
Many laws have been passed to encourage responsible behavior on our roads by successive governments.

But the public must adhere to them!

This Government will continue to consider laws and policies to discourage bad behavior on our roads and the police will continue to enforce those laws . . .

But the public have a duty! Get involved and take personal responsibility – every time you get on a bike or get into a car, drive responsibly, with care and caution, and obey the rules of the road. You may very well save your life or someone else’s.

Road users ought to understand that most collisions can be avoided if they make wise decisions.

Let’s all work together and participate in making our roads safer for everyone.
To further the Governments efforts there some key initiatives that we are working on.

Firstly, we are currently considering three legislative changes.

  • We will be proceeding with implementing roadside sobriety testing and will make amendments to the legislation during the next parliamentary session
  • We are exploring the use of speed cameras
  • We will be looking at beefing up various fines for infractions as it relates to the Traffic Offences [Penalties] Amendment Act.

Additionally we are working on:

  • A Road Safety Summit – this summit, planned for later in the month, will involve an array of stakeholders. We will get a meaningful conversation going with the objective of finding some tough solutions to this grave problem.
  • Education – We are looking to expand our efforts in this area with a dynamic, high-impact campaign, across all mediums, aimed at raising awareness and reminding motorists of the issues and their personal responsibilities.

We are all keenly aware of the issues we have with road safety and the challenges we face. We need to raise our level of commitment, take personal responsibility for our driving and we all must take action to improve our road safety.

Thank you.

-

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Comments (30)

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  1. Lovely Bermuda says:

    If people think they can get away with breaking the rules, they will.

    Unfortunately, I rarely see anyone being pulled over for speeding, talking on phones, dangerous driving etc. Back in the 80′s if you did anything above 42kph, the police appeared out of no where to ticket you, no exceptions. Now, we get a smiley face on the speed tracker doing 49kph out of Hamilton. What is up with that?

    It’s pretty simple, if you let us loose in the candy store, we’re going to eat the candy. No repercussions, why bother doing the speed limit. One NY’s Eve my resolution was to never exceed 50kph – which I still try to adhere to – sadly people tailgate, overtake and look annoyed as apparently I drive too slow.

    Defensive driving classes taught in Drivers Education in the US are excellent. They teach you how to anticipate errors other drivers may make, handle road conditions, etc. Here, our children turn 16, after a few simple classes, they hop on their bikes and off they go. Ask the younger generation what the speed limit is, most don’t even know. Not to mention, they watch and learn bad habits from those already on the road. They don’t even think they are doing anything wrong. Driving like a video game – like they have multiple lives. Beyond frustrating and sad.

    More traffic enforcement would be a wise investment considering the major impact it would have on people’s lives. We are spending how much towards policing the gang violence? Traffic accidents seem to be causing much more damage in death and injuries, not to mention the innocent drivers who the offenders may crash in to – leaving those drivers to live with it for the rest of their lives and families to grieve.

    Humans need rules. Rules that are enforced. It is just our nature.

    • Mockingjay says:

      The Island is OVER POPULATED with people and traffic.

      • Creamy says:

        A good number of these accidents happen in the early hours of the morning when no other traffic is around.

    • Trust NOT says:

      Why was is it ok to post the burning children in Nigeria but not the last fatality in Bermuda. I’m not colour blind and Premier nor Minister are not as well!

      • Frank says:

        Its not! However one individual we have potential control over by condemning and possibly threatening legal action the other person we do not! Its as simple as that!

  2. Baygrapes says:

    Until you are threatened with actually losing your vehicle for drink driving (impound it) this will never stop. Not even the risk of increased fines will be a deterrent. The thought of having your vehicle impounded hurts more than any fine levied. In fact, being taken off the road for a period of time does not work either as I know people who just keep driving throughtout the entire time they are meant to be “off the road” !

  3. Just One says:

    And we must use turn-signals as well, please!

  4. Suggestion Box says:

    You have a huge task on your hands. As you rightfully stated, this is not a new crisis. Good luck, enough is enough!

  5. Dude says:

    you don’t need to waste time on any new legislation. just install the cameras already!

  6. Suggestion Box says:

    I agree with you Lovely Bermuda but if you look at the stats in the 1980s when our enforcement was at its highest we averaged double digit road fatalities 5 years of that decade. One of our highest was 17 in 1983. The studies show that it is education and not enforcement that change behaivor on the roads. I think tackling this issue from many fronts is the best approach.

  7. PBanks says:

    Good thing they didn’t come up with similar speeches last August else they’d be regurgitating the same ol blather… oh wait.

  8. sage says:

    We got useless cctv already, and fines are too high . Remember when they proposed a $1000 dollar fine for seatbelts? Consider people who don’t make six figure incomes.

    • Innit says:

      They are called laws for a reason!

      Maybe people should “consider” them before they get into or on their car or bike.

    • Hurricane says:

      If you don’t make six figures, fasten your seat belt. It’s for your own safety

    • Sally Girl says:

      Or you could just obey the laws. Just a thought.

      • Varied says:

        When people know they’re unlikely to be caught, they’re going to keep on breaking the laws. You can tell em “slow down” until the cows come home and they’ll continue to do what they want instead.

    • Terry says:

      Then wear a freeking seat belt.
      Buckle up.

      • sage says:

        I do wear one, never had a ticket either, clowns, I’m just pointing out that fines are like rents here and the falsely inflated average income figures, conceived of and/or scewed by people to whom money is no object.

  9. Cow Polly says:

    Enforce the existing laws, make not using your indicators against the law and empower Judges to insist that those found guilty of breaking the law re-take their driving tests including the written part because clearly they’ve forgotten the rules.

  10. Smiths says:

    UNMARKED POLICE CARS and UNMARKED POLICE CYCLES…thats the answer. Catch poor/dangerous drivers etc when they least expect it.

    • repeat says:

      Do that and then we won’t be able to identify them when they drive like lunatics and slide off the road into the trees!

    • Billy Mays says:

      The use of UNMARKED police vehicles has been repeatedly shown to be completely ineffective in enforcing traffic laws. What you need is police VISIBILITY, so that people see them with the radar guns regularly. Also, enforce turn indicator usage, child safety seat usage, and buckling of helmets. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

  11. Speedy says:

    Speed is not always the issue. There is nothing wrong with 50 km/h on the island. The problems are the people who over speed and drive dangerously. You can drive between 40 – 50km/h and actually be no threat to anyone. It’s the person who think passing between cars, doing excessive speed, that are this issue and just generally bad driving. Bad driving is worse than doing 50km/h and in my opinion you can get an old person who drives so slow that they are actually more of a risk. Other bad drivers on the island. Water trucks, some bus drivers, taxis, Nanna stopping for her cousin at a round-about when Nanna must be driving, Johnny having his kid stand in front of the scooter while he does 60 km/h – this last action should anyway just be stopped, tailgaters, the police drivers who think they are above the law and can do 60 km/h

    Last TCD is the biggest joke. They fail expats who have been driving for years in the US, Canada, UK to do a license and then they fail them when they did not go for a driving test. There is this guy at TCD, who loves to fail the expats who did not go for a driving test. His reason, you have to get use to the Bermuda Roads – seriously what a joke

  12. Are you kidding me? says:

    Bring out All the cycle squad that we have rusting away at prospect headquarters ,bring out All the radars that we have ,and I force the laws that we already have in place ,and for crying out loud Stop the third lane……

  13. Triangle Drifter says:

    Did a driving course with the Bermuda Institute of Advanced Motorists in 2006. Do they still exist? The course was a basic police driving course which was far more involved than any instruction available from so-called Bermuda driving instructors. At the end there was a written as well as an extensive driving test.

    Passing the test entitled one to an insurance discount on full coverage but nothing on 3rd party.

    Even after near 30 years of insurance claim free driving & near as long offence free driving that course taught more than a few things which were not known before.

    Since that course I am still offence & claims free in Bermuda. There has been one claim overseas in over 150,000 miles of driving overseas but that was a weather caused accident. Blowover. No fault, no citation from law enforcement.

    Perhaps that course should be mandatory for the driver who cannot go for more than a few years without a crash or traffic offence before insurance is available to them again.

    It really is not that hard to remain crashfree.

  14. RMB says:

    It is really simple. Enforce the laws that we have and have constant Police visibility.
    We will always have people who speed. That is just the way it is. But if Police are visible and are enforcing 45kph then everyone else will slow down and we will have immediately have a significant impact on speeding and less carnage on the road.
    After that, we can do all the nice marketing and law changing to make thing easier (cc tv speed cameras; automated fines without court appearance; relicensing tied to vehicle registration; etc).
    But please stop the talk and get on with it! You politicians are a sad lot!

  15. joe says:

    change bike licensing to 18
    change car licensing to 20
    invest in car ferry’s to bring down congestion from the west end.
    re-brand the streets to mark where absolutely no overtaking is allowed. Like we have in place but a more obvious indicator and increase the fine or repercussions extensively in those areas. oh ya, cops should actually fine the culprits. get rid of these useless speed bumps and smiley face signs. So what is the actual speed limit on east broadway anyways? it seems like 50 is ok? but they will pull you over for 45 when the sign isnt on or working? A bit of clarity please

    the problem is the lack of respect for the majority of good drivers and commuters. No one indicates, no one yields anymore and no one respects the law.

    • PBanks says:

      I can’t imagine the size of boat required, not to mention the infrastructure changes needed at the relevant docks, to implement a ferry service that allows cars on board.

      That said, I agree with you on people failing to use indicators properly, or give way appropriately. But we see people stopping on freaking roundabouts to let people ‘on’. Craziness.

  16. joe says:

    i blame rap rap music

  17. E. Gamble says:

    Mobile Speed Camera Patrols are seriously needed on
    Harbour and Middle Roads in Paget and Warwick!
    People drive like Maniacs, I’m surprised more deaths aren’t occurring everyday.