The National Roads Authority (NRA) placed road safety at the forefront of the agenda during their recent Road Safety Week conference, held on 29 October – 1 November at the Ritz-Carlton.
The conference opened with a welcome from NRA (Acting) Managing Director Edward Howard. He told the assembled delegates that “road safety is everyone’s concern,” especially given the 149 deaths that have occurred as a result of road traffic collisions in the Cayman Islands since 2000.
The Minister for Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Hon. Joey Hew then offered his own opening remarks, highlighting some of the significant strides the NRA has already made to improve safety on the roads.
These include: island-wide implementation of fluorescent yellow-green lighted pedestrian crossings at schools and at crossings, installation of 20,000 ft. of new highway safety guardrail, anti-skid surfacing on selected sections of roadway and the use of transverse thermoplastic striping at high traffic intersections like roundabouts, which alert motorists on approach.
Minister Hew also referenced future projects which are geared towards promoting road safety, such as the upcoming installation of speed check radar signs on West Bay Road and in other locations where excessive speeding is prevalent.
He cited studies which have demonstrated drivers will slow down 80% of the time, when encountering a radar sign that alerts them to their excessive speed.
With tangible ways of improving road safety across the Cayman Islands at the nucleus of the conference, the event boasted a wide array of both local and international speakers from the public and private sectors. Michael Dreznes of the International Road Federation (IRF) reprised his role as keynote speaker.
The IRF is a global not-for-profit organisation that assists member countries in moving towards better, safer and smarter road systems. Mr Dreznes began his first session by drilling down into statistics referenced by Minister Hew, which indicate that 1,350,000 people die on the roads internationally every year.
He issued a call to action and asked attendees to address the complacent attitude that dismisses deaths from road traffic collisions as “inevitable.” He told the audience that, at the current rate of mortality, 15,000 people will have died in road traffic collisions globally over the four-day conference period.
Mr Dreznes deduced that this number of deaths means road traffic collisions represent the second worst epidemic in mankind’s history. He called upon governments across the world to step up to their moral responsibility to “vaccinate,” against the problem, regardless of the cost.
Other highlights of the conference included a session led by Inspector Dwayne Jones of the RCIPS. Interim Chief Fire Office Paul Walker and the Director of the Department of Public Safety and Communications Julian Lewis both spoke of their agencies’ capabilities when responding to road traffic collisions.
The conference agenda also focused on the four “Es” of road safety: engineering, education, enforcement and emergency services.
The conference is set to return in 2020.
|Group photo of conference delegates and speakers (Photo by GIS)|