Video: Road/Water Safety Press Conference

December 16, 2020 | 7 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Transport Lawrence Scott, Michael Weeks and Dennis Lister III are holding a press conference this morning [Dec 16] to provide an update on the Bermuda Road Safety Council and the Bermuda Water Safety Council. We will have additional coverage later on and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 15-minute replay is below

Update 2.15pm: Minister Scott’s remarks:

Good day members of the media and the listening public, thank you for joining us here today.

Many of you will be familiar with the Bermuda Road Safety Council and the Bermuda Water Safety Council’s efforts over the years to raise public awareness and improve how people use and travel on Bermuda roads and waterways. Since the two organizations inception, while they have always shared similar objectives, they have always operated independently.

Going forward, however, the plan is for both organizations to work together toward the common goal of safe driving, safe piloting and use of our roads and waterways for all of Bermuda.

To that end, I now invite the Chair of the Bermuda Road Safety Council, MP Dennis Lister III and the Chair of the Bermuda Water Safety Council, MP Michael Weeks to say a few words.

Chair of the Bermuda Road Safety Council Dennis Lister’s remarks:

Today the Bermuda Road Safety Council stands with our partner, the Bermuda Water Safety Council. As Bermuda is an island, you can never be too far from the water and we Bermudians love to travel on the water also. Road and Water safety are not dissimilar, and as a result, we should take water safety as seriously as road safety.

Road safety is of the utmost importance throughout the year, but especially during this festive season. Our message for December is “Don’t Drink and Drive!” This goes along with our designated driver campaign as we know people will consume alcohol more freely at this time. We encourage motorists to plan ahead. If you intend to consume alcohol whilst you’re out, plan ahead how you will get home. Long gone are the days when you could socialize, consume alcohol and take a risk by attempting to drive home whilst under the influence.

Since 2018 we have seen the introduction of RSC and the have made a difference in changing the attitude towards drunk driving. Credit must be given to officers of the BPS who have dutifully carried out the role of enforcing the laws and apprehending those that choose to drive while impaired. I repeat, when you plan to go out for a drink, first have a plan on how you will get home safely. The BRSC continues to push our “Designated Driver” campaign and we encourage people and establishments to sign up for our “DDC”.

There are other options to get home – taxi, minibus, close friend or relative or the Home Safe program. Planning to get home by one of these means is helping to make our roads safer by eliminating risks.

Whilst we highlight impaired driving, we must not forget that speeding is also a major concern on our roads. Excessive speed is the cause for many serious collisions in Bermuda. If we slow down, we can decrease a large number of preventable collisions.

The BRSC feels it is necessary to remind pedestrians and pedal cyclists that they also play a part in road safety. When you are out jogging, walking or cycling, whether for exercise or for pleasure, remember to face the traffic coming towards you. Also, if you are out after sundown or even at dusk, please wear reflective gear or bright colors. We want you use the roads, but be safe while doing so. Remember, it is just as important to be seen as it is to be able to see.

As there are always new trends arising, our laws must also stay relevant and up-to-date. In the last 18 -24 months we have seen an increase in electrically assisted pedal cycles on our roads. While some are used for recreation, they have also become a primary mode of transportation for others. There is no danger in using them in itself, however these cycles can get up to speeds of 50km/h, which makes it a danger if not used properly and safely. The Road Safety Council has taken notice of this and will be recommending to the Ministry of Transport that electric assisted cycles be treated as auxiliary and motor bikes. As such they will need to be insured and licensed to ride on the roads and helmets must be worn. We understand that this will upset some owners, but we must put safety before convenience. If a rider is travelling on an electrically assisted pedal cycle at a speed of 40KPH without a helmet, they are exposing themselves to a serious head injury if they were to be involved in a collision. Also if there is a collision with another vehicle, there must be insurance coverage for the owner of the electrically assisted pedal cycle.

I would also like to commend Sargasso Sea and Pickled Onion Restaurant. They have taken upon themselves to come up with creative ways to help reduce the risk of drinking and driving on our roads over the holiday period.

We want this holiday season to be of joy and cheer, and by being responsible and adhering to the rules of the road, we can make this happen.

Chairman of the Road Safety Council Michael Weeks remarks:

Anyone who travels on the water anytime of the year, knows that they are not alone. Summertime recreational boating is more prevalent but the waters around Bermuda also have increased activity during the festive periods.

I am pleased to participate in the press conference to get important messaging out about safely travelling on the water during the holiday period.

I am urging all boaters to exercise good judgment and use common sense when in control of a boat. This includes not drinking alcohol and driving a boat. It is a fact that alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Please be respectful of other water users.

And for those who will be travelling on the water at night, please remember to go slow, be seen, keep a lookout and be bright. You would not drive fast on a dark road without headlights – the same applies on dark water. When darkness restricts your visibility, you must slow down to a safe speed. A safe speed is one at which you can stop and avoid a collision, considering the circumstances and conditions at the time.

Remember, the faster you go, the faster you approach hazards and the less time you have to react. Hitting a hazard at speed can have a greater impact on you, your passengers and your boat.

In Bermuda residents can purchase a boat and operate it without any boating knowledge. Many marine incidents are caused by individuals not having a basic knowledge of marine safety which have led to a loss of life. Often times after an incident questions are raised, “Did the pilot have a licence?”, or “What is the government doing about this to prevent these incidents?” In this regard, the Water Safety Council would like to see the implementation of a mandatory competency exam for the general boating public. Many other coastal jurisdictions require recreational boaters to have operating licences. Data has proven a reduced amount of marine incidents with the implementation of a competence licence.

Boating is a fun activity for all locals and visitors to the island. Having a competent boat operator will help to lower the amount of marine incidents and ensure marine safety for everyone.

Every year the there is an increase in the number of new boaters who excitingly purchase a boat without any water safety knowledge. Educational material on marine safety, boating and moorings regulations are available from the Boats and Moorings section of the Department of Marine and Ports on Middle Road, Paget.

We must do everything within our powers to ensure that we all practice on-water safety.

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Comments (7)

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  1. red rose says:

    these must be the two most ineffective committees ever

  2. Ringmaster says:

    How about a competency test for MPs? After all you can get elected with absolutely no knowledge or experience, and it shows.

  3. sage says:

    So electric bicycles, introduced a couple years ago will need license and insurance because they can go 40kph but boats will need a “competency exam”, but no license or insurance needed, and we apparently only just legislated against DUI on the water. What is the allowable amount of alcohol for buses and taxis? Tour boat/ferry drivers is now .5 and .8 for regular boaters and road users.

  4. wahoo says:

    By all means there should be a boaters competency exam it should include etiquette and rules of the road as well as basic navigation – no fee. Insurance needs to be mandatory and should have a clean up clause incase the boat is wrecked or destroyed by storms.

    • Birdlegs says:

      It’s about time for boat users needing to pass a test. There are so many idiots operating boats. This includes commercial operators who should be tested annually. I have seen examples of commercial operators being the worst recently.

  5. Toodle-oo says:

    I’m sure these two really feel like they’ve accomplished something grand that will make a huge difference to our safety .. lol
    We already have all of these regs for the roads after all and look at the difference it made to all the mayhem and lunacy !
    I did forecast some time back that I could see formal legislation for the electric bikes though .
    If they ever start to talk about the huge drug problem we admit we have on this island and that a massive amount of road users are under the influence of more than just booze then I’ll start to listen to them.

  6. RastaCutty says:

    Oh lord. MP Dennis Lister III, you are Chair of the road safety council and what actually have you done? Still to this day one can not go to a bar to have a drink and have decent options to get home. Taxi’s are extremely difficult to get, hitch is useless and buses don’t go at night. Please can you actually come up with solutions for people to get home at night? MP Michael Weeks, do not make this a money grab but actually think about this properly. You need the data first before you start just saying we need a competency test. Talk to insurance companies and get them to lower rates if people take a test. The accidents on the water are not all from beginners, many are from very experienced boats. One of the big issues is the lighting of channels. Try going from dockyard to town at night and you will notice half the channel markers are burnt out. Get some feedback before instituting a boat test just so you can make money.

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