Today’s Editorial for April 22: Drivers put others at risk

One of the consequences of continued population growth in the Cayman Islands is an increasing amount of vehicular accidents.

Grand Cayman is now experiencing accidents at a rate of about 110 per month, which amounts to more than 3.5 accidents per day. Considering there are not that many roads here, the figure is relatively high.

Reported accidents have risen steadily over the past three years, from 1,007 in 2006, to 1,310 in 2007 to 1,470 in 2008. These figures do not include the many minor accidents which go unreported to police.

A major part of the problem continues to stem from the improper usage of roundabouts, something we have written about on more than one occasion. The National Roads Authority agrees that there are varying misguided opinions on how to use dual lane roundabouts in particular, even among members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police.

As part of an initiative to promote roundabout education, the NRA has erected signs to remind people to use their indicators when traversing roundabouts.

Although an NRA engineer observing indicator usage at a roundabout noted that more people appear to be signalling their intentions, he also noted a significant number of motors who were not, and some that were ‘oblivious to their surroundings’ while on the roundabout because they were talking on their cell phones.

While police statistics tell us how many accidents there were and where they occurred, they do not tell us how many of those accidents occurred while one or both drivers were talking on their cell phone. It is safe to assume, however, that some of those accidents occurred while drivers were distracted by being on the telephone and not paying full attention to the road.

Not only is the practice of using a cell phone while driving dangerous, it can also cost money; as the accident rates go up, so does everyone’s insurance rates.

There are physical dangers and economic impacts of allowing people to drive and talk on hand-held cell phones. Until legislators have the courage to put a stop to the practice through an amendment to the Traffic Law, Grand Cayman’s accident figures are likely to continue going up.