More roadblocks, more offenders
A prolonged police crack down on speeding, drunk driving and other traffic issues has led to a huge increase in the number of people being ticketed and prosecuted this year for breaking the road rules in the Cayman Islands.
Through September 30, 4,292 speeding tickets had been issued by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. That’s close to a 25 per cent increase when compared to the number of speeding tickets RCIPS officers handed out during the entire 12 months of 2006.
RCIPS records show 740 tickets have been given to people who weren’t wearing their seat belts in the first nine months of this year. That’s a 138 per cent increase over the same nine months of 2006.
Police Inspector Derrick Elliott of the RCIPS Traffic Management Department said the massive rise in traffic citations is at least in part due to more cars being on island roads.
However, he said there’s been an obvious increase in police traffic enforcement, including the use of road blocks like the island has never seen before.
‘We’re doing two or three a week around the island,’ Mr. Elliott said. ‘We would normally do one a month in previous years.’
Speeders are generally easy for officers on patrol to identify, but Inspector Elliott said the huge rise in seat belt offences is likely because of the police road blocks since its more difficult for officers driving to spot other motorists who are not wearing their belts.
Eighteen per cent more Cayman drivers have also been ticketed this year for not having insurance, but Mr. Elliott believes that’s more a function of the economy than police efforts.
‘A lot of people cannot afford to pay for insurance so they just go out there and take their chances,’ he said.
One place where RCIPS has not seen an increase in tickets is for drunk driving, where figures show almost the same number of citations from this year to last despite the increased enforcement.
Mr. Elliott said it appears people are finally getting the message, or at least noticing more road blocks.
‘We do a lot of media releases regarding people getting designated drivers and motorists are taking heed to it,’ he said.
There were 164 DUI citations in the first nine months of this year, compared to 165 DUI offences at the same time last year.
Police traffic enforcement was stepped up late last year in response to a series of fatal accidents on Grand Cayman. Fourteen people died on island roads last year. So far in 2007 there have been eight lives lost in car crashes, six on the main island; two on Cayman Brac.
The total number of traffic accidents in the Cayman Islands appears likely to eclipse those recorded in 2006. But Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan recently said officers were making progress in efforts to cut down on road wrecks.
Inspector Elliott said there may be some grumbling among the public about the increased road blocks and traffic enforcement in general, but he said he believes most understand the need for it.
‘People do make comments – but we’re not there to penalise motorists per se, we’re just there to enforce the law.’