Traffic accidents prompt safety campaign

A new road safety campaign, Share the Road, is under way in an effort to reduce the rising number of vehicle accidents on Cayman’s roads.

Traffic offenses in the territory rose by 26 percent in 2016, with a total of 6,463 incidents reported and six fatalities.

The Rotary Clubs of Grand Cayman have come together in a national campaign to encourage road users to have respect for each other. The initiative will involve television and social media campaigns as well as visits to schools, targeting young motorists.

Dawn Cummings, past president of Rotary Sunrise, said, “All three clubs recognized the national importance of this campaign, and have therefore combined forces to ensure that its messaging is prominent, widespread and effective. Too many members of our clubs have had personal negative experiences on the road, or know family members or friends who have.”

She said the number of accidents in Grand Cayman is “staggering” for such a small island and with the expansion of Cayman’s road network, the Rotary clubs wanted to do their bit to help make the island safer. Joey Hew, minister for infrastructure, endorsed the campaign at a launch event Thursday, saying it would help bring the concept of CaymanKind to the roads.

He encouraged motorists and other road users to show patience and understanding.

Kurt Walton, deputy commissioner of police, said the increase in traffic offenses is due, in part, to a higher level of enforcement.

“We have reinstated the traffic management unit and we have seen a significant increase in enforcement, a major increase in speeding detection. Our purpose is to make the roads safer.” Inspector Ian Yearwood, who heads up the traffic unit, said speeding and drink driving are the two biggest threats on the road. He said education is key.

“We can issue as many tickets as we want, but to get the true message out to the public, it needs buy-in from everybody using the road,” he said.

Matthew Forbes, head of the Governor’s Office, said Governor Helen Kilpatrick is very concerned about the rising number of accidents on the road, including a fatal crash in East End in May in which four people died.

“What is unique about Cayman is the number of different nationalities that drive here and the different standards and habits they bring with them from different countries,” he said. “You have people coming from the U.S., for example, who may not know how to use a roundabout, and people from the U.K. who have never seen a four-way stop before. There are some peculiarities about Cayman’s road system that hopefully this campaign can help sort out.”

The campaign messaging will target all road users, including cyclists, pedestrians, vehicle drivers and motorcyclists, and will provide them with ways to keep themselves and others safe on the road. Presentations will also be given to community groups, and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service will assist with spreading the message to people as they are out on the road.

Justin Bodden, president of Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, said, “A lot of the time, road safety campaigns are only geared towards drivers and don’t include or address other road users. Share the Road aims to show that every road user has a part to play in keeping our roads safe, even if they are not in a motor vehicle.”