MP Dennis Lister - Road Safety Council Remarks
Good Afternoon and Welcome to the media,On behalf of the BRSC, I would like to take this opportunity to offer condolences to the families of both road traffic victims this year.
New Year Use your safety gear. That is the January slogan of the month by the Bermuda Road Safety Council. January is the time for fresh beginnings and turning over a new leaf. While many people will do it by creating a new year's resolutions, we would like to encourage persons to include improved driving as a resolution. Each of us can do our part. If we all do our part as it relates to improved driving and increased road safety, we will have a safer road environment for everyone.
There will be many people who will be out walking, running, and cycling for recreation or exercise, for their resolutions. While we are happy to see the public enjoy these activities, safety must be first.
We can all recall stories of near misses and accidents between vehicles and pedestrians or cyclists. There are stories of drivers and riders not being aware of pedestrians until at the last second. To this end we remind walkers, runners, and cyclists to wear bright and/or reflective gear when on the road and to ensure that you are facing the traffic coming towards you. Please be reminded that if you are walking two or more to walk single file, if you are on the road.
Motorists also have a role to play, by ensuring that during times of low visibility they use their headlights. At dusk, dawn and during rainy conditions, having your headlights on is not only for your visibility but also for oncoming vehicles to be able to see you.
Another important tip is 'Ensure you have the right gear'. Not only is it about having the right gear but making sure that the gear is up too standard and in good condition. While cycling at dusk, dawn or night ensure that you have a working light and horn or bell. Check that your brakes are in good order. Whether for a pedal cycle, motorcycle or electric assisted cycle, helmets are necessary while riding on the public roads. Helmets that are industry standard will last for five years before they should be replaced, whether they've received damage or not.
In recent months we have seen an increase in the popularity of electrically assisted pedal cycles and we must adapt with the times. The AUXILIARY BICYCLES ACT 1954 gives the definition of an auxiliary cycle as, means a vehicle with two or three wheels intended or adapted for use on roads and the vehicle- is 1) electrically propelled; or 2) is mechanically propelled and has a motor with a cubic capacity not exceeding 50 cubic centimetres. This shows that electrically assisted pedal cycles fall under regulation and as such the Road Safety Council is lobbying the Ministry of Transport to bring them in line with motorcycles which are required to be licensed and insured. We, the BRSC understand that there will be some resistance to this, but we aim to put safety first. We would like to be proactive than rather to wait until something happens. The council would like to see this as a priority for the Ministry to take up.
In regard to the wider traffic regulations and schedule of offences there will be some work done on updating them to fit our society today.
The BRSC realizes and understands the role that technology can play in helping to address road safety. The topic of installing speed cameras has come up many times, and the BRSC supports this idea. We understand however, that any action to initiate them is solely dependent on what is set in the budget. The technology of speed cameras will not only assist the BRSC, but also the BPS, as another tool for enforcement of traffic laws.
I want to take this time to thank the BPS for the work they do to keep our Bermuda roads safe. With the introduction of Roadside Sobriety Checkpoints in 2018, the BPS has successfully operated this initiative and we have seen the positive results of it. While drunk driving isn't the only cause of collisions, it is one of top two along with speeding, in Bermuda. The BRSC will continue its efforts to address these and other causes this year, and we ask that the public also continues to do their part.
Since 2018 Bermuda has seen a steady decrease in road traffic fatalities (RTF) year to year. In 2018, due to the high number of road deaths in 2017, the BRSC was commissioned by the Ministry of National Security to come up with a plan to address the amount of RTl's. "Operation Caution" The Road Safety Plan 2018-2023, was formulated to help address the cause. Of the plans and objectives, reducing RTFs and RTC by a quarter each year, was the main objective for the council. We have gone a long way to help achieving that since then. In 2017 there were 15 fatalities, in 2018 -12, 2019 -9 and 2020 - 6 in these few years we have reduced RTF by 50%, I am proud of the work done by the BRSC and by the public for doing their part to be a part of the solution.
In closing 2020 was a year like none other, let's say goodbye and hello to 2021. Together, if we do our part, we can ensure Bermuda's roads are safe. Be safe, drive with care and caution, don't drink and drive and slow down Bermuda.