An independent assessment of Grand Cayman’s roads found that there are numerous roadside hazards, such as large trees or buildings too close to the road along main roads, and pedestrian safety “is poor on many roads.” But overall, the road conditions in Cayman are far better than most other countries in the region, according to the report.
The International Roads Assessment Programme surveyed more than 120 miles of roads across the island early last year. The researchers found that traffic deaths in Cayman happen at a far higher rate than average for high-income countries. The report gives two proposals for improving road safety, with a wide range on the price from $50 million to $114 million.
Frank Sound Road stands out in the report as particularly hazardous for motorists, motorcycle riders, pedestrians and cyclists, and was the only road to get a one-star rating for drivers. The report states that the high speed limit, roadside hazards, undivided lanes and poor markings are part of the low ranking.
Making roads more forgiving’
Marion Pandohie, transportation planner with the National Roads Authority, said the objective of the report and recommendations is to make Cayman’s roads “more forgiving.” She said, “If you make a simple mistake on the road, it will forgive you – you won’t die.”
Ms. Pandohie said the NRA is still looking at the assessment and figuring out how to implement some of the recommendations.
Morgan Fletcher, an engineer with the International Roads Assessment Programme who worked on the report, said Cayman’s roads are much better than other countries where the organization has worked. “There are a lot more four- and five-star roads” than in other countries around the Caribbean and Central America, he said.
Roads in Cayman were given a rating of between one and five stars in the study.
Mr. Fletcher commended Cayman’s National Roads Authority for the condition of the road system, saying, “A lot of good things are happening” and that the roads authority seems “keen to implement” some of the recommendations.
Mr. Fletcher, highlighting some of the trouble spots in the report, said pedestrian safety in George Town was one issue. The report states that pedestrian safety “is poor on many roads, with limited and often discontinuous sidewalks and crossing facilities where pedestrian numbers are high.”
He said many of the roads are in urban areas, which keeps drivers from going too fast, and thus makes them safer.
The report highlighted several issues with roads that the NRA should address. “Roadside hazards are numerous,” the report notes. Of the roads in the survey, including every main road on Grand Cayman, 90 percent “have hazardous objects” like large trees, boulders or solid walls within 16 feet and leave less room for drivers to make mistakes.
Mr. Fletcher pointed to Easterly Tibbetts Highway to show the safer end of the spectrum. The northern section of that road, thanks to divided lanes and other design features, scores four stars out of five in the assessment’s safety rating.
The assessment, done with an automated camera system mounted on a National Roads Authority vehicle, judged safety of roads by medians, shoulders, curves, intersections, average speed, average daily number of cars and a number of other factors. All the various elements of a road are considered when rating safety for cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians on that road.