Involve youths

Clearly there is no easy solution to the problems that face Cayman when it comes to young people dying in car accidents…… or should I say men: I recall just one female fatality in my five years on the Island (who was a passenger).

But the issue still requires all effort and thought to get to a solution, so I’m adding my two pennies.

There are a few things that I’ve noted, I’m sure all of them are obvious and some may already be in place, but there’re still worthy of mention:

• A large percentage of fatalities are young men driving fast cars, most times Honda (not casting any blame on the car manufacturer) and in some cases these cars are modified. Nothing wrong with having a love for speed, but being able to handle it and knowing when and where it is to be used is another story.

Bottom line – There should be an age restriction on owning/driving cars with a certain engine size e.g. not greater than 1300cc. The modification of cars should be regulated i.e. requiring special licensing; and only permissible for specific purposes e.g. legal racing events and only to persons of a certain age or with a certain number of years driving experience.

Banks and insurance companies should not provide financing and insurance to teenage drivers unless the type of vehicle meets these specifications.

We regulate who can own a gun; we should regulate who can own a fast car…. at the last count, cars were deadlier in Cayman than guns.

• There is also the issue of lack of driving experience with new drivers getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Bottom line – New drivers should be given a special drivers license, which prevents them from owning or even driving a car that breaches the specification e.g. a car that has a large engine size or that is modified etc.

When cars are registered with the Licensing Department the disc to be placed on the windscreen should indicate the class that the vehicle falls into so that police when doing spot checks etc can compare the disc details to the person’s driver license to see if they are authorized to drive the specific vehicle.

And maybe the disc for new driver should be a nice bright colour so that police attention is drawn to them more. I know that sounds a bit one sided, but so are the fatality stats.

These special licenses would expire after two to four years when the new driver graduates to the experience class. (Subject to their driving record during that time e.g. number of accidents, tickets etc…)

• Ban the use of cell phones while driving. Nuff said.

• Raising the awareness that speed kills – I know we have many road signs that state the speed limits in the specific areas. Clearly they don’t make a difference.

Let’s try corporate sponsored billboards around the Island. Get these same young drivers involved in the designing of these billboards through a competition of some kind; they know what appeals to their peers. Have a national road safety week/month coordinated by young people…. yes, parents and adults have a role to play, but a message from peers will have more mileage.

Bottom line – get the youth really involved in saving their friends lives.

Just some of my thoughts……

Patrick O. Smith

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