Campaign urges all road users to to be nice

Road users are being urged to be nicer and more courteous to each other and take a leaf from the tourism brand of ‘Caymankind’ as a way to reduce smashes and collisions. The government, police and all of Cayman’s Rotary clubs have joined forces to launch a new road safety campaign called “Share the Road” (see video below), aimed at motorbike and bicycle riders, and pedestrians, as well as motor vehicle drivers. Officials behind the campaign are urging all road users to think about others when they are driving and be nice to them.

The campaign was launched at a press conference on Thursday, where Dawn Cummings from Rotary, who is spearheading the project, described the number of accidents on local roads as “staggering” and said that most people can share a bad road experience.

“Too many members of our clubs have had personal negative experiences on the road or know family members or friends who have,” said Cummings, who is the immediate past president of the Sunrise Rotary Club. “Traffic offences in Cayman rose by 26% in 2016, with a total of 6,463 traffic related incidents reported last year and six fatalities on our roads, all large numbers for a small island like ours. But no matter the numbers, every death on our roads is one too many.”

Cummings, Matthew Forbes from the governor’s office and Joey Hew, the minister who now has responsibility for roads, indicated that the issue of having so many people from different backgrounds driving on Cayman’s roads could be a contributing factor to the high number of collisions but by exerting some “Caymankindness” on the roads, the community could come together to reduce the number of crashes that can kill or maim.

Hew said that roads are now being designed to make them safer, and he said his ministry would continue to pursue the expansion of public transport, encouraging people out of their cars or getting them walking and riding bikes where appropriate. The minister also brought up the idea of incentives rather than bans for people to begin using smaller greener vehicles.

The police also offered their backing. Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton noted that the RCIPS was stepping up its efforts and had reopened the road traffic unit. He said speeding and drunk drivers remained problematic on the roads and that education campaigns were an important factor along with enforcement. Chief inspector Ian Yearwood pointed out that enforcement is only one element education; engineering and etiquette were equally important to keeping the roads safe.

This particular campaign is different, the Rotary organisers said, because it focuses on all road users and not just drivers, as is usually the case. Cummings said riders on motorbikes and bicycles had to consider their vulnerability on the roads and pedestrians needed to exercise caution too.

Cyclists are being encouraged to wear helmets and pay attention to road safety. Chief Inspector Yearwood said that cyclist should not be riding against the flow of traffic. While pedestrians are encouraged to walk towards the oncoming flow of traffic when there is no sidewalk, cyclist should always ride with the flow of traffic.

While there has often been talk about the idea of foreign nationals taking a driving test before being issued a Cayman licence, Yearwood said that they are now required to do a written test by the reciprocal arrangements in the Geneva Conventions relating to driving, which means that people coming to Cayman with valid licences from overseas have a legitimate right to access a local licence, which in turn allows Caymanian licence holders to drive overseas.

The campaign to encourage everyone to share the road in a spirit of harmony and courtesy will involve media promotion as well as school visits and community events, and will be asking all road users to think about who they are sharing the road with and how everyone can get safely to their destinations.