During a press conference at Hamilton Police station yesterday afternoon, Bermuda Police Service (BPS) Commissioner Stephen Corbishley revealed some alarming statistics regarding serious road accidents and road fatalities on the island within this calendar year.
Despite 2021 being only half over, there have been six road fatalities this year, the same amount for all 12 months of 2020. Last year, there were a total of 83 road accidents which resulted in serious injuries, compared with 130 so far this year.
“ It’s quite obvious through statistics that there is a concerning and dangerous level of driving behavior currently taking place on the island’s roads,” Commissioner Corbishley said. “ The BPS will approach the issue intelligently through data, but the nature of driving and riding bikes is becoming extremely concerning.”
The BPS is undergoing a review of its road policing strategy and is looking to grow that unit to address some of these road problems more effectively. Offenders will be taken to court and the BPS will advise the courts to give stern sentences where appropriate to send a clear message to motorists.
“ [The BPS’ collaboration with Government and the Road Safety Council] may result in speed-carving and the use of speed cameras in some locations,” Commissioner Corbishley said. “ All of us need to consider the speed at which we drive and ride on the road . . . I assume that every person watching or reading this has probably seen [on the road] an act of incredible stupidity, incredible carelessness or incredible dangerousness at least once today.”
The Commissioner reminded the public that, while the BPS, the Road Safety Council and the government are trying their best to keep the island’s roads safe, personal responsibility is at the core of the issue.
“ My appeal this afternoon is for people to really consider how they drive . . . because very tragically and in very real terms, people are dying [and becoming very severely injured] as a result of people’s behavior on the roads.”
Chairman of the Road Safety Council and PLP MP Dennis Lister III took time during the press conference to extend his condolences to the family of 23-year-old Ra-Che Williams, who lost his life during a hit-and-run accident near Knapton Hill on Friday, as well as to the family of a young lady who is now in the hospital as a result of a hit-and-run accident on Sunday.
“It is an offense under the Road Traffic Act to leave the scene of a collision that results in injury to a person, domestic animal or causes damages to property,” Mr. Lister said. “Such incidents must be reported to the police and [anyone directly involved] must remain on the scene until they arrive and leaving before their arrival is an offence.”
Mr. Lister also told Bermuda’s drivers that driving is a privilege that is earned and can be taken away if abused, not a right that they are automatically entitled to.
“ [The Bermuda Road Safety Council] reiterates its call to all motorists to drive with care, caution and courtesy on Bermuda’s roads and to reduce their speed,” he said. “ We all must do our part to make our island’s roads safer.”
Despite two hit-and-run collisions occurring within two days of each other, Commissioner Corbishley stated that there were two completely different circumstances surrounding them and does not believe that the island is experiencing a spike in hit-and-run accidents, but a significant spike in accidents and collisions of every kind.
“The single biggest theme within these accidents is speed and the way in which the bikes and cars are being driven,” he said. “ If people follow the rules and drive the correct way, that [behavior] should minimize occurrences of any accidents, so I ask that people take personal responsibility with how they act on the roads,” Mr. Lister added.
The BPS is strongly considering putting speed cameras in several locations throughout the island where they feel that people frequently drive at excessive speeds.
“ I have a strong belief in a driver’s average speed being captured as opposed to short stretches because it shows the duration of behavior over the course of a journey as opposed to on a very short stretch of road, where some people may slow down,” Commissioner Corbishley said. “ Those things are very much in discussion between the BPS and the Ministry of National Security, but it will all depend on our financial capabilities to do so. I would like to be optimistic and say that we might be moving forward within the next year.”
With a lot of crimes, a small minority of people commit serious offences, but Commissioner Corbishley does not think that this is the case with reckless driving in Bermuda.
“ There are people who I think are law-abiding citizens, but when they seem to get on a motorbike, something happens and people drive in a way that is not only dangerous for others, but also dangerous to themselves,” he said.
“The difference between a minor injury, a serious injury and a fatality while on the road is very, very narrow and that is what people have to keep in mind . . . People are now feeling more able to freely move around the island, but they can move around the island slightly safely and get to your destination safely, as opposed to slightly early; it’s better to get to your destination late than not at all.”
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