Driver’s Ed coming to schools

The recent deaths of two more teenage drivers on Cayman’s roads have spurred Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin to decide to make Driver’s Education mandatory in public schools.

‘Driver’s Ed is going to be part of the curriculum at government schools,’ he said at the Cabinet press briefing Friday.

‘It will happen,’ he added later.

Mr. McLaughlin said he made the decision over the Christmas holidays after he delivered the obituaries for two young teenage males killed on the roads last month.

‘That affected me,’ he said, adding that he is often called on to deliver obituaries, but that when he does it for young people, it ‘tears me up.’

The exact details of the plan have yet to be worked out.

‘Conceptually, what we have in mind is Year 11 students would take the course,’ said Mr. McLaughlin.

Fourteen people died in traffic accidents on Cayman’s roads in 2006, most of them teenagers.

Another tool that could help prevent teenage road fatalities here has been delayed.

Cabinet Minister Arden McLean said the Government had intended to implement on 1 January the amendment to the Traffic Law regulating the granting of driving licences to teenagers.

That law, which calls for teenagers to get driver’s licences on a graduated basis, was passed unanimously in the Legislative Assembly in March 2005, but has never been commenced.

‘When we looked over the law, we found anomalies, or omissions, we didn’t particularly like,’ Mr. McLean said, adding that the problems were in the section of the law dealing with driving instruction.

Because of the problems, the government withdrew the proposed date for commencement of the amendments until revisions are made to the law.

Mr. McLean could not give an exact timeline for when the revisions would be complete and the law commenced.

‘I am hoping it will be this year, but I can’t give any specific timeframe,’ he said. ‘A couple of [ministry] staff members are doing research on other jurisdictions.’

In the interim, Mr. McLean said he was meeting with representatives of Mattsafe, a committee dedicated to implementing strategies to reduce teenage road fatalities. Mattsafe is also a strong advocate of graduated driving licences for teenagers.

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts and Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin had already met with representatives of Mattsafe, Mr. McLean said, but his meeting had been delayed because of a personal emergency he had to tend to last month.