Police slam brakes on speeders

In the last two weeks, police officers have issued more than 400 speeding tickets, as they tackle the increasing number of drivers breaking the speed limits.

According to Commissioner of Police Derek Byne, 404 speeding tickets were issued in the last fortnight, with one being given to a motorist driving at 102 miles per hour.

Inspector Dwayne Jones, head of the RCIPS Traffic and Roads Policing Unit, told the Cayman Compass on Wednesday, “So far this week, we have recorded and prosecuted 104 individuals for excessive speed. Quite frankly, that is just too much. People need to slow down.”

Since the gradual reopening of the domestic economy, thousands more motorists are on the roads, many making multiple journeys each day. That number is added to the already several thousand people who venture out on their assigned ‘letter day’.

The Traffic Law empowers officers to issue speeding tickets. The penalties begin with fines of $20 per mile for every mile over the speed limit.

RCIPS officers at a speed-detection checkpoint off the Esterley Tibbetts Highway on Wednesday. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Throughout this month, Jones and his team have been setting up speed-detection checkpoints across Grand Cayman. Cayman Compass staff accompanied police to some of the locations.

“This motorist was just caught going 60 miles in a 40-mile zone,” Jones told the Compass as an officer showed him a radar gun that recorded the speed of the vehicle from more than 1,600 feet away.

“As the law dictates, for every mile that is in excess [of the speed limit] it’s $20; he has just accumulated a $400 ticket for himself,” said Jones.

Within the next five minutes, along the same stretch of road, another three drivers were clocked travelling at more than 55 miles an hour.

Speed cameras along Linford Pierson Highway registers a vehicle travelling at 59 miles an hour.

Compass staff also visited the Linford Pierson Highway where the National Roads Authority has installed speed-detection cameras. Within a space of 15 minutes, a camera in one section of that road captured dozens of motorists travelling at almost 20 miles over the speed limit.

Further up the road, police had set up another checkpoint, where multiple people were also detected speeding.

Inspector Dwayne Jones points to a 40mph speed sign along Shamrock Road, an area where officers have frequently recorded drivers travelling in excess of 80mph.

“Shamrock Road, and in particular this stretch commonly known as ‘Spotts Straight’, continues to be an area where persons speed on a very regular basis,” said Police Constable Athelston Watts. “We have captured several motorists in the last few days going in excess of 80 miles per hour. In one instance, one motorist [was travelling at] 85 miles an hour, and that person was captured from a distance of over 2,000 feet away.”

For those caught travelling at more than twice the speed limit, the penalties are greater than a fine.

“Travelling at 85 miles per hour in a 40-mile zone, that person is going to be prosecuted, sent to court and, if convicted, will be disqualified for a minimum of six months,” said Watts.

Police have been chastised in the past for ‘ambushing drivers’. At a West Bay town hall meeting last year, one motorist described the experience as being nothing short of “entrapment”.

At speed-detection checkpoints that Compass staff attended, officers were either hardly visible or not visible to motorists from afar.

“By no means are we jumping out of any bushes to intercept anyone,” said Jones. “We place ourselves at strategic locations where we have an advantage to detect road users who are speeding.”

He noted that excessive speed is a major contributing factor to fatal traffic accidents in Cayman. Twelve people died in road accidents in 2015, a quarter of which occurred due to excessive speed.

PC Athelston Watts writes up a $400 ticket for a speeding motorist.

With gyms closed, and the sea and beaches off limits until last week, people took to the roads to do their exercise, leading to a major uptick in pedestrian activity along public streets.

Cayman Islands Football Association referees Jonathan Hughes and Ben Whitty are two of the many people trying to keep fit during the lockdown.

“I’ve been trying to keep off the roads as much as possible,” said Hughes. “I’ve heard [about speeding] anecdotally, but I have … noticed the police presence out trying to keep a lid on it, and that is definitely positive.”

Whitty added, “My opinion is that nowhere is far on this island, so I don’t know where you are rushing to. Obviously, the police are out doing speed traps when they can, but it might be that they need stationary cameras in place to take a snapshot of the speeding [car’s] licence [plate] and go from there.”

Jones said that, while police understand many families are currently in financial difficulties, his officers won’t compromise when it comes to speeding offences.

“Motorists have a responsibility … to ensure they are operating within the law,” said Jones. “But if you are caught speeding, you will be prosecuted, because the ultimate [goal] at the end of the day is saving lives and ensuring that you, the motorist, get safely to wherever your destination is.”

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