Opening of Road Safety Week 2024

I can stand here today and speak about the beautiful sunshine, and Bermuda’s pink sand, and yes, all that is true.

But sometimes we have to speak to the heart and soul of each one of us. We have to ask ourselves: what kind of life do we want to live? What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind? How do we want our dash to be remembered?

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 disregard the law, who endanger ourselves and others? The choice is ours, and the consequences are real.

Every one of us, has a dash in our life. The dash rests between the date we are born, and the date we die. The challenge is that there are individuals that reduce the dash in their own lives and even the lives of others.

What will it take? Governments can only do so much. Governments can only pass so much legislation. Governments can only put so many regulations in place, but what Governments can’t do is control all of the reckless riding we all see on our roads today.

Every day on Bermuda’s roads, we bear witness to unsafe, illegal, and dangerous driving spanning from one end of the island to the other. From reckless speeding to cutting corners, overtaking on blind curves, running red lights or stop signs, and driving under the influence, the list of hazardous behaviors is alarming.

But today, I stand before you not just to highlight the grim reality but to ignite a spark of change within each of us.

Yes, we’ve all experienced those heart-stopping moments, silently praying for the safety of those taking reckless risks on the road. Let those moments not just be reminders of danger, but catalysts for action.

Speeding stands as one of the primary causes of collisions in Bermuda. However, the risks skyrocket when compounded with driving under the influence, lack of care and attention, or distracted driving.

To all Bermuda road users, I say, “Enough is enough.” It’s imperative that we prioritise road safety and instigate a fundamental shift in our driving habits.

This week, the Bermuda Road Safety Council (BRSC) calls upon all road users to commit to fostering safer roads for all.

I call on each one of us to think before we put the peddle to the metal or get on a bike or drive a car under the influence.

The theme for this year resonates deeply: “Changing Minds, Changing Behaviors.” It’s a reminder for each of us to reassess our approach to road safety and our conduct while behind the wheel, riding, or walking.

Recent statistics from the Bermuda Police Service paint a disconcerting picture, with impaired driving arrests continuing to escalate:

170 arrests in 2021
229 arrests in 2022
265 arrests in 2023, with 39 arrests in the first three months of this year alone.

Moreover, within the first quarter of 2024, the BPS has issued 639 speeding violations.

These figures are distressing, and the blatant disregard for safety is disheartening. It’s imperative that we transform our perception of public roads and our behavior on them.

Our roads are not just pathways for individual journeys; they are shared spaces meant for everyone. Every selfish action carries grave consequences, not just for the perpetrator but for innocent lives.

While enforcement agencies play their part, the responsibility ultimately lies with each of us. We must exercise restraint, patience, and caution while driving, riding, or walking.

I’d like to take a moment to honor and remember those families and friends who have tragically lost a loved one due to road fatalities. No words can fully ease the pain of your loss. Today, we stand in reflection alongside you, celebrating the lives of those who are no longer with us. As a community, it’s imperative that we each do our part to prevent further tragedies on our roads.

In closing, I wish to thank the Bermuda Road Safety Council, led by Chairman Dennis Lister III MP and Deputy Chairman Wayne Swan and members of the Road Safety Council for their service. We appreciate your work to raise awareness and promote projects such as the Junior Road Safety Council, Designated Driver Campaign and transportation planning for event organisers.

As a community, it’s imperative that we each do our part to prevent further tragedies.

Together, let’s transform our roads into safer spaces, where every journey is a step towards a brighter, safer future.

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