Road fatalities fall by 50%

| 04/10/2012

_DEW2454-250w-main(2).jpg(CNS): The number of people killed on the roads in Cayman this year has fallen by 50% when compared to last year, the latest statistics from the RCIPS have revealed. In the first six months of 2011 six people had already lost their lives in a year which would see ten fatal victims of traffic smashes. Alongside the fall in road deaths in the first half of the year, police also report that accidents overall have declined by 21%. However traffic offences have fallen by only 2% and the number of people arrested for drunk driving (DUI) has increased by 9%, despite the warnings by police.

The RCIPS has been clamping down on traffic offences in an effort to reduce the number of accidents but DUI continues to be a serious problem on the local roads. A senior police officer recently stated that drivers do not take the issue of drinking and driving seriously and many appear not to believe it is a crime.

Acting Superintendent Angelique Howell has said the disregard by drivers, despite persistent campaigns and warnings from police, demonstrates that drinking and driving is endemic on the Islands and is not seen by many as breaking the law.

“Unfortunately so many people seem to drink and drive so often that they do not actually believe that they are doing anything wrong – it’s a way of life for them,” she said. “But every time they have a drink then get behind the wheel of a car they are gambling with their own lives and the lives of other road users. I don’t know how many times we have to say that, and in how many different ways, before the message finally starts to get through,” Howell added.

The drink driving limit in the Cayman Islands is already higher in comparison to North America and Europe. In Cayman drivers are permitted to have 100mg of alcohol in their blood before they are considered to be legally incapable of driving compared to 80mg in the UK, most of the US and Canada and 50mg in European countries.

On Monday the education minister pleaded not guilty to DUI charges after he was arrested in May following a road smash on the West Bay Road in the early hours of the morning. According to police, Rolston Anglin was over the limit after he was found to have 110mgs of alcohol in his blood.

A Grand Court judge recently recommended that the level be reduced following a conviction in a fatal drunk-driving case in June this year. Passing sentence on Patrick Brooks-Dixon, who killed Dr Richard Martin in a road smash last November when he had 173mgs of alcohol in his blood, the judge pointed to the high number of road crashes in Cayman as a result of drunking and driving.

“I mention the international levels due to the prevalence of accidents caused on the road in which a driver has been drinking. It may be that the time has come for consideration to be given to reviewing the levels having regard to the scientific evidence as to the effects of alcohol on a driver over 50mg,” Justice Williams said.

The RCIPS have offered their support for the judge’s position to lower the legal alcohol limit. “Any steps that can be taken to reduce road crash injuries and fatalities on our roads must be explored.  We have said time and time again that drink driving is endemic on these Islands, and unfortunately, despite the numbers of deaths and injuries on our roads, people still continue to drink then get behind the wheel of their vehicles, endangering themselves and innocent road users. It's clear that we need much tighter legislation to help us make the roads of Caymansafer for all," a police spokesperson stated this summer.

Although the judge’s call has received public support on CNS, people remained concerned about the lack of an alternative to the private car. Commenters said that drivers are getting in their cars after drinking alcohol because taxis are too expensive and thereis no public transport at all after dark.

So far this year 109 people have been charged with DUI compared to 100 over the first six months of 2011. The worst month was January when 22 people were arrested — a 57% increase on January 2011.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I believe 2009 was lowestt year of fatalities since the police started keeping record in 1985. There were only three.

    What was the reason for the low number of fatal accidents in 2009?

    One reason for  a high number of fatalities is duis. With a transit population of approximately 50%. Expats can drink get arrested, drink get arrested and have the matter put off in court until they are ready to leave the island.Tthere is no deterrrent. When you are back in the UK, USA, Canada or Jamaica, you really do not need a CI drivers license. 

    The Court needs to deal with DUIs quickly. What is the saying "justice delayed is justice denied?".

    • Anonymous says:

      There seems to be a disconnect between the first half of your post and the second.

      I had to think for a few minutes that by duis (which I thought was a new word for me) was actually DUI's.  

  2. Anonymous says:

    If you have better reporting procedures, the incidents and crimes being reported will go up and the percentance of cleared up will go down, since it is likely that incidencts/crimes that normally went unreported before are of the variety that is considered impossible to clear up or too trivial to put resources into. Also, better education on certain types of crimes, for example, Domestic Violence, will increase amounts of crimes. This is also a major factor, I think.

  3. Ex-Police says:

    The current Commissioner has no clue of what he is about. When he came here in 2009, there was a motivated Traffic Department. What did he do? He said there was no need for a Traffic Dept. He tore it down and the accidents went up, fatalities went up 40% and insurance companies paid dearly. So please give me a break, let him come foward and tell JOHN PUBLIC how much geriatrics have been imported for that $4,000,000.00 he went to the LA for.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I suppose it helps with the cops going around crashing into stationery objects instead of other cars/people, that brings the number down!

    I may get quite a number of thumbs down for this next comment, but we'll see.  Has there been a reduction in Jamaican and USA expats on the Island as their driving capabilties are probably the worse in the world.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Populatin has dropped by 26%.  Of course there will be less accidents!

    • luvu says:

      . . . and there are fewer in a certain segment of uninsured, bad drivers on the road; however, the boys with toys terrorizing motorists at night and especially weekend evenings is causing fewer law-abiding people to chance going out.  This will skew the statistics also.  But must agree with others who point out the statistic is meaningless with such a small sample and short period for comparison.

    • Anonymous says:

      The population did not drop by 26% since last year. That would mean that it was at 50,000 in 2011 it is now only 37,000 and if that were the case we certainly wouldn't be having the heay traffic in the mornings that we still experience. Where did you get that idea? Did you just make it up?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Excellent news…..perhaps less young kids have access to high powered vehicles since the cost of insurance has gone up more in line with the risk of insuring them. It might also be a statement as to the state of the economy that less young kinds can afford a car.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, having been called out to more than my fair share of serious and fatal crashes in the UK I've found these kinds of statistics have more to do with chance than good roads policing.

    You can have a stretch of road completely free of any serious crashes for 30 years and then one night there's one head-on crash with seven dead. Similarly another stretch of road can claim the lives of three people in a month and then, without any increase in enforcement or additional road safety measures, remain accident-free for the next five years.

    I'm not saying that RCIPS are not doing good job and certainly robust, high-visibility traffic patrolling is still (despite all the hi-tech toys like speed cameras) the only effective way of reducing road casualties but these stats need proper analysis.

    To make any sense ofthe figures locations of clusters of crashes, or hot spots, need to be identified and compared from year to year or even month to month to map trends and target them.

    Don't get me wrong, any reduction in roads casualties is welcome just don't get lulled into thinking this is indicative of an overall downward trend because stats like this don't prove anything. One county in the UK successfully reduced road fatalities every year for a decade. Then just as they thought the problem was coming under control a spate of accidents took the number of fatalities back to over 100, the worst figure in the previous 10 years and a 66% increase over the previous year.

    And reducing the drink drive limit will only work if it's properly enforced. It's like the 20mph speed limits we have in the UK, on paper they're a great idea but the resources to police them are simply not available. 



  8. Anonymous says:

    Useless article about nothing. Headline is just meaninless.

  9. Frank says:

    Its been said time and time again that government need to regulate cabs. There is absolutely NO justification in charging somebody $75 for a 10-15 minute cab ride. Even if you factor in licensing fees, gas, insurance and maintenance they are still over charging by an insane amount. Simply make it mandatory for every taxi to have a metre and introduce fines if any drivers are not caught using them. It mentions in the above that the drink driving limit in Europe is half that of Cayman but guess what, the cab fares are a quarter of that of Cayman and they get used frequently. Making public buses available till at least midnight is also an alterative, even if you charge $5 or $6 as opposed to the usual $3 or so.

    • Anonymous says:

      The new traffic law has introduced taxi meters as a must for all taxi operators, however its a pointless measure as the taxi's themselves (association) are the ones in charge of regulating them……..don't see much change  coming I'm afraid……

  10. Anonymous says:

    There should not be any fatalities at all considering the speed limits in place and the number of miles of road heer on the island. However the way the minibuses drive in the morning on West Bay Road, it is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident. This morning at about 6:45 2 minibuses were engaged in what can only be described as a race, overtaking long lines of traffic at I guess at speeds well in excess of 60 mph. The passengers must be scared out of their minds.

    It is about time there is regulation specific to public transport in the form of speed limiters at 30 mph, tacho graphs etc. It is a shame that it is only a small number of lunatics who are putting everyone else at risk, but they have to be stopped. P. S. Have not seen a Police Car on the West Bay Road at about this time for months now, has anyone else?

    • Turtle's Head says:

      I agreeabout the minibuses.  The speeds of those driving buses down West Bay Road to either a 7am start for work or to be there for cruise ships is terrifying.  One week with a speed camera between 6.30am and 7am and you could get several of these maniacs off the roads.  I have been tailgaited, cut up and on one occasion seen a buses cross the middle lane and go into the oncoming traffic lane as part of a double overtaking manouevre.  But that bus driver had a religious slogan on his bus, so maybe with God on your side, such moves are OK.

      • Anonymous says:

        Over half of them never have their licenses showing in the bus.  Its obvious what's going on.

  11. Local says:

    Please report the facts:
    Since David Baines took over as Commissioner  in June 2009 the % of offences cleared up as compared to those reported has fallen:
    In 2008 (right before Baines) the percentage of offences Reported vs Cleared Up was 74%. In 2009 it dropped to 62% (Baines startedin June 2009). Then the % dropped in 2010 to 30%!, and rose only slightly in 2011 to 37%.
    If you knew that only 37% of crimes reported are cleared up in a year – would you report it.
    Please, give me a break – the RCIP is a failure under the current manager. And these appauling statistics come at times when the CIG has poured money (even $4,000,000 to buy spy equipment) into the RCIPS.