Be smart: Stay safe, drive sober

Even though we have no ice or snow on our roads, winter is the most treacherous time of year to be driving in the Cayman Islands. The culprit responsible for the heightened danger on our streets isn’t Mother Nature, but alcohol consumption, carelessness and risk-taking.

As the Cayman Compass reported last week, in the past month there have been about 150 vehicle collisions, including 69 in the seven-day period before Christmas. That monthly total is about twice the average for the other 11 months of the year, according to police. And those wrecks have been piling up, despite the increased presence of law enforcement during its annual holiday season traffic crackdown, called Operation Magpie – and with New Year’s revelry yet to come.

Police will remain out in full force on Cayman’s roads through Friday, Jan. 1 and the following weekend. Some of our readers may find themselves having roadside discussions with officers that they’d rather not, about things such as cell phones, seatbelts, vehicle registration or insurance. However, as Police Commissioner David Baines said, that’s far from the worst conversation one could be having with police.

“To those who complain that increased policing on the road is a nuisance at holiday time, imagine being the officer who has to be the one to inform a family of a tragic loss at Christmas, or even worse, being the family member at the receiving end of that tragic news,” Commissioner Baines said. “We are out there to prevent this, and we need people to do their part so we can finish this year with no more road tragedies.”

During the day, drivers would be wise to exhibit a greater-than-typical amount of courtesy and patience, and should check vehicular blind spots and rear-view mirrors even more carefully than usual. That applies double during the nighttime or if it happens to be raining.

If you feel you’ve perhaps had one eggnog too many – or suspect a loved one may be in a state of holiday cheer incompatible with operating a motor vehicle – do the right thing and call a taxi cab, obtain a designated driver, or make other transportation arrangements. (For New Year’s partygoers, the free Purple Ribbon Bus service will be in operation again this year.)

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Usually it’s best to make those plans ahead of time, before alcohol impairment sets in, distorting the perception of one’s own mental conditions and physical abilities.

Even if you don’t realize you’re too intoxicated to drive, the arresting officer surely will. That being said, we are steadfast proponents of the concepts of self-reliance and personal responsibility. Like Commissioner Baines, we are far less concerned about the legal fates of drivers who exercise bad judgment, than we are about potential ramifications that one person’s bad decision may have on other people’s lives.

To drive drunk because it is more convenient than identifying a sober driver, or remaining sober yourself, is a base and selfish act of disregard for the well-being of the people you are endangering and the individuals who care about them.

That’s in direct opposition to the spirit of the holidays. During these final days of Christmas and New Year’s joy, let’s be smart and work together to keep Cayman’s roads friendly and safe.

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  1. Until the punishment fits the crime, people will continue to drink and drive. Hurt people where it hurts. Impound the vehicle, hit them with a fine so heavy they will be paying for it for the next year.
    Even the stupid will learn from that.

  2. Another factor are tourists walking on roads oblivious to the presence of cars.
    This last Saturday afternoon we were driving from West Bay Rd to Fosters on the Strand. There was a young couple pushing strollers walking along the roadside. They then pushed their strollers right across the entrance to the Strand without so much as turning their heads. Right in front of our car.
    Luckily for them, I had anticipated this and was driving dead slow. But goodness!
    So in this holiday season, please watch out for "tourists from Mars" who have never seen a car before.

  3. I agree, Len, but you forgot disqualification of driver license, times everything by 2, then I think if a careless and irresponsible individual don’t learn, then it’s time to put him or her some place else, not on the road.

  4. The driving on this Island has gone from bad to worse. We have been here for 19 years and this year we are not going out for New Year’s Eve as it is just too dangerous on the roads. We have had so many "close calls" during the daylight that it is not worth driving in the evening and/or especially during a "party time." It is a shame that other people’s bad habits are dictating our lifestyle.

  5. @ L Bell
    I read part of this 71 page report.
    Looks like someone was paid a lot of money to state the obvious.
    And you’re right, many of the same things happen here.
    But folks, no need to read this report, just please watch out for tourists, who will often be:
    ..not sure what side of the road you are coming from
    Sometimes all three.
    Any tourists reading this, please watch out, we know you’re on vacation but most of us living here have to work. We will often be driving just like you do back home. And we do have our own unsafe, drunk drivers too.

  6. @Norman Linton
    I wish everyone was as proactive as you are. Understanding the mind set of a visitor on vacation surely helps to prevent a tragedy on a road. 71 pages of obvious sometime is necessary to get the point across. So many local drivers just curse at the gawking tourists, instead of accepting them as it is and anticipating such behavior.
    It would be wise for the road safety department to review this report and implement what is applicable to the Cayman Islands. Create an awareness. Issuing a small brochure about driving in the Cayman Islands for distribution to visitors would go a long way.