The new chairman of the Road Safety Council has said he is committed to the introduction of roadside breath testing and speed cameras.
Dennis Lister III said: “We support roadside sobriety testing and speed cameras 100 per cent and we will do all we can to get that acted on and coming into effect this year.”
But Mr Lister, an MP for the ruling Progressive Labour Party, did not throw his weight behind a graduated licensing programme designed to better train new road users in Bermuda and suggested the Project Ride scheme already in operation was sufficient.
He added that he was unaware of a recommendation for a full programme that had been presented to the Government.
Mr Lister said: “We don’t want to become too much of a police state when it comes to addressing the education part of it.
“We have seen that it has been adequate enough as of now, so we don’t want to over police it where you do Project Ride, you successfully pass and then you have another step which is sort of regressive to what you have just done.
“If you pass Project Ride and see the results, we don’t want to put more on top of that.”
The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign has called for non-selective roadside breath testing, speed cameras and a graduated licensing programme, including an on-road component for new road users.
The objectives are based on research including analysis of 15,000 road crashes between 2009 and 2016 as well as a study that looked at every road crash in Bermuda between 2003 and 2004.
The objectives are backed by Drive for Change’s partners at A Piece of the Rock, the Bermuda Police Service, anti-alcohol abuse charity Cada, as well as by emergency doctors and EMTs.
Mr Lister said that roadside breath tests were the council’s top priority.
He added: “We just had our first official road safety meeting and that was the number-one issue that we talked about and how we can lobby to get it into effect.”
Mr Lister said that a camera network would be a valuable tool to crack down on speeding.
He added: “We will be advocating for speed technology as there is a culture of speeding.
“Speed cameras, hopefully in the short term, will be a deterrent and in the long term they will help change our culture.
“Now you can speed, everyone knows where the police are. They feel that they can get away with it.
“Speed cameras will help to address that as you don’t know where the cameras are.”
Mr Lister said Project Ride — a 12-hour programme designed for Bermudian students that teaches the basics of motorcycle riding and is confined to riding in a car park — helped to boost road safety.
According to data provided by the Bermuda Hospitals Board, 16-year-olds are still the most likely to be involved in a road crash in Bermuda.
Graduated licensing programmes have helped to reduce road death and injury in other jurisdictions including Britain, the United States and Australia.
Ali Bardgett, the former chairwoman of the Bermuda Road Safety Council, recommended to past and present governments a graduated licensing programme that was tailored to Bermuda.
Mr Lister said: “It has not been brought to my attention as yet. I would need to follow up on that.”
He added that as chairman he was committed to better education in schools to help improve road safety.
Mr Lister said the council had other programmes to deal with reckless driving or driving without due care and that there were other problems that needed to be addressed.
Mr Lister explained that if people thought the main focus was drink driving, speeding and graduated licences, they might feel that other bad behaviour on the roads such as inattentive driving was acceptable.
By Sarah Lagan