Police so far this year have issued 827 more speeding tickets than for the entire of 2019 even though Cayman Islands residents were in lockdown for three months.
According to Royal Cayman Islands Police Service statistics, 3,945 speeding tickets have been issued since the start of the year, compared to 3,118 last year.
And already, in the first two weeks of December, 106 speeding tickets have been handed to drivers, and 15 people have been arrested for DUI.
Acting Superintendent Brad Ebanks said the number of speeding offences that have been flagged is “alarming”, considering that Cayman was under shelter-in-place protocols between 27 March and 21 June. For much of that period, there were limits on the number of people who were allowed out in public, with only essential workers having permission to be out and about, and other members of the public restricted to what days they could visit supermarkets or banks.
But, as restrictions were gradually eased over several weeks and traffic began returning to local roads, speeding offences started to rise. By mid-May, speeding drivers were becoming a concern for police, leading Police Commissioner Derek Byrne to appeal to motorists to slow down after his officers issued 404 speeding tickets in the two-week period between 15 and 29 May. Some drivers were clocked at 100 miles per hour, he said. The maximum speed limit in Cayman is 50 miles per hour.
So far this year, there have been nine fatal accidents in the Cayman Islands, with three of the victims being pedestrians, police said.
The RCIPS noted that on average, it investigates 10 road fatalities a year.
The number of cases of driving under the influence of alcohol has fallen somewhat this year, with 251 people being arrested for DUI as of 16 Dec., compared to 329 people in 2019. However, that number is likely to increase as the holiday season progresses and additional police check points are put in place as part of the RCIPS annual road safety campaign, called Operation Winter Guardian this year.
The highest blood alcohol level recorded this year was .336%, more than three times the legal limit.
Ebanks, in an interview with the Cayman Compass, said the main focus of Operation Winter Guardian is to target drunk drivers and speeders. He said the priority of the RCIPS is to keep the roads safe, but he also appealed to drivers to take responsibility for their actions and to consider their families and communities when they get behind the wheel.
He added that it was distressing to see that motorists were being caught speeding or driving under the influence even within 24 hours of news of a fatal accident. “People are dying,” he said, as he stressed the importance of driving safely on local roads.
Reshma Ragoonath contributed to this story.