Bad accident starts off year

The holiday week was mostly safe and quiet on Grand Cayman, but police said the New Year got off to a bad start with another hit and run car accident which sent three people to hospital.

The head on collision happened around 3:20am New Year’s Day on Crewe Road near Ryan Road. Police said a Honda Civic with three people inside collided with a Chevrolet Caprice.

The Honda overturned and its driver and two passengers remained hospitalised Wednesday; one of the passengers with broken legs, the other with fractured ribs. The nature of the driver’s injuries was uncertain at press time. All three were expected to survive.

Royal Cayman Islands Police Inspector Derrick Elliott said the driver of the Chevy Caprice, an 18-year-old male from George Town, ran from his vehicle after the crash. He was later arrested on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident.

The car accident was an anomaly in what had been a largely uneventful holiday period for the RCIPS. Inspector Elliott said police had made just five arrests for drunken driving between Christmas Day and New Years Day. Seven speeding tickets were handed out over that same time.

The number of serious traffic citations remained low even though officers posted ten roadblocks around the Cayman Islands on New Year’s Eve, a number of check points which Mr. Elliott admits is quite high.

‘We’re pretty sure a lot of people used the commuter bus — to prevent them from being arrested for DUI,’ he said. ‘The number of arrests is not particularly alarming.’

The police service struggled mightily last year to reduce the dangers on Cayman roads after 14 people were killed in accidents during 2006.

Eleven people died in accidents in 2007; nine on Grand Cayman and two on Cayman Brac. However, that’s still nearly twice the number of traffic deaths the islands saw in 2005.

The number of young drivers dying in road wrecks also dropped significantly over the course of last year. According to a Caymanian Compass review, from January 2005 through February 2007 the average age of drivers killed on local roads was 27. Fifteen of the 22 people killed in that time were 26 years old or younger.

From March through December 2007, the average age of the eight people who’ve died in Cayman car accidents is just under 40. Only two of the victims were under age 26.

Final statistics on car accidents had not been compiled by police as of press time, but trends showed the total number of accidents was likely to increase in 2007.

Through 30 September, 2007 accidents had gone up by seven percent when compared to the previous year.

A huge increase in the number of speeding tickets and seatbelt violations was recorded in 2007. However, despite the increased enforcement by RCIPS the number of drunken driving arrests stayed about the same.

‘We’re always appealing to motorists to drive carefully, obey the speed limits and not to drive while intoxicated,’ Inspector Elliot said. ‘Maybe people are getting the message.’