Young activists call for road safety improvements

| 15/01/2021 | 41 Comments
Greg Simcoe

(CNS): With Coach Greg Simcoe still in a serious condition after he was knocked down on the West Bay Road last month, students who have been campaigning on the environment are now using their voices to push for improved road safety. Some of Simcoe’s students who are members of Protect Our Future told CNS that safer roads are an important part of protecting their future as well.

In response to the collision, in which Simcoe, a PE teacher at Cayman International School, was badly hurt and his dog killed as he crossed the West Bay Road by Cemetery Beach, students have come together to propose changes to road safety policies. Police have said that the investigation into what happened to Simcoe continues but no arrests have been made in the case.

While the accident involving their coach has hit them particularly hard, the youngsters pointed to the near 250 crashes on local roads last month alone as another motivating factor in their decision to take action and begin the campaign to lobby government on road safety.

“While Coach Greg’s horrific accident is one that has left our community in shock, these instances are not a new occurrence,” said Ben Somerville (17). “The Cayman Islands road systems and regulations have been a faulted area for many years now.” He added that “the students of Protect Our Future, and even the broader Caymanian community, believe that our roadways have become out of control”.

The young environmental activists pointed out that reducing the amount of cars that continue to be imported into Cayman and encouraging people to use alternative means of transport would not only help the environment but also make the roads safer. However, until that happens, something still needs to be done about cutting the number of crashes that are happening now, they said.

The POF students have suggested a number of ways to make the roads safer, such as many more police check points, especially in areas where speeding is prevalent, to regularly monitor speeding and drunk driving. They also want to see harsher penalties for these traffic offences, including community service and fines, licence suspension, and even jail time for frequent violations.

They also believe government should be paying attention to improved sidewalks, more protected bike lanes and free or subsidized high visibility bands and blinking lights for riders and pedestrians to ensure that they are clearly visible.

The students said Cayman needs an efficient app system that tracks all public buses, maintaining that residents and tourist would be more inclined to use them if they know where and when they can catch one.

“While our proposed solutions require effort and time, taking any steps at all to improve the safety of our roadways is a step in the right direction. Our intention is not to ridicule our government or these structures, but to advocate for positive changes that will keep our community safer,” Somerville added.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Yet, as of the night of January 17, 2021 (last night) the lighting at the pedestrian crosswalk at Cemetery Beach is still almost non existent!! Where the F**K are Tara Rivers, McKeeva Bush, Bernie Bush and Eugene Ebanks??. Don’t they drive by that area regularly or do they helicopter into and out of West bay!!! Disgusting!!

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s the same across the Island pal, Prospect/Patrick’s Island lighting is a joke as well – @AustinHarris, still missing in action not sure he’s ever been to Prospect. I’m sick to death of these politicians promising the world and when elected doing absolutely sweet FA. Cranks.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hey Prospect/ Red Bay “Whats App” group, the strip on Prospect Drive leading to the boat ramp (fat fish) is a dragstrip for cars! Same for Marina Drive- we NEED speed bumps and more patrols in our neighborhood. Pets and kids are at serious risk. WHERE are the speeding tickets?

        On THAT note, a police car just has to wait every single day at Peanuts to watch the daily motorcycles SPEED by at 4;45=5;15PM, you can set your watch by these speeding maniacs.

        Police Commissioner – it is time for a speeding campaign? We have enough patrol cars? Please stop this madness and catch these folks.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where’s the Minister with responsibility for Infrastructure?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would like to see the UK style points system come in place here. where if you are caught speeding numerous times you lose your license. Nothing will change in cayman until we are converted from a driver’s society to a walking/biking society. Why such a small country has so many cars ?

    • Anonymous says:

      It wouldn’t work as the police are never on the road to catch anyone speeding and most of them don’t even know how to use their indicators.

      We have so many cars because it is hot to walk or cycle and public transport sucks.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Joey has been prominsing bike lanes and other pedestrian/bike safety measures but, as with many government initiatives/promises, it’s always too little too late!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Like every single issue, I mean every issue in cayman, its caused by a lack of enforcement. People don’t hold people accountable and there are no re precautions for them. From politicians, to drivers to policemen it people too lazy to do their jobs, and why does that happen? A lack of compitition

  5. Anonymous says:

    I remember a policeman who championed the last road safety campaign on the radio. He said the problem on our roads was the number of nationalities with differing driving standards. He then went on to blame Americans for not knowing how to drive round roundabouts and Brits for not knowing how to use a 4 way stop. Yeah cos they’re the problem. Delusional.

    • Anonymous says:

      And do you also remember the Minister who suggested we ban Honda Civics because they were involved in most of the crashes? Not a clue!

      What’s staggering is we now have a police commissioner from a country with a robust road safety programme that has been saving lives for many years but none of that has been transferred over here. I’d say he’s hit the old political ‘not invented here’ brick wall and he’s definitely not the first.

      Old saying, ‘You can’t fix stupid.’

    • Anonymous says:

      We literally have signs telling people to indicate turns, and yet the vast majority of people driving cannot manage it. This is despite most vehicles being automatics and therefore easy even for a village idiot to drive. The fact that the lack of indicating causes delays and accidents, and therefore slows traffic down is not lost on me, but appears to be beyond the intellectual limits for these clowns.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This desire and drive from the youngings are good. This is what we need in these islands. Sadly, if the intention is work up government to do something, that is where I become the pessimist. Governments do not care and have no incentive to care for the issues we face because they place themselves in an ivory tower.

    Its about time we start working to change the people’s perception and mind instead of focusing on trying to get government to do things. If we can get ourselves sorted and resolve things without petitioning government, not only do I believe we will actually get things done in timely manner, government will become scared when they realize they don’t hold the power they think they do and fight to gain our favours back. The first step is to realize government isn’t going to do anything (as they have shown in the last few decades) and if we want something done we need to work hard ourselves and work to convince our fellow citizens.

  7. Ananymous says:

    Sadly too many people that have never driven buying a driving license and coming here and just transferring for Cayman License and then the recent scandal at with the driving instructors taking bribes and giving people shortcuts to get their license. Too much corruption no concerns about road safety.

  8. Sad and Disappointed says:

    I am a PPM member and supporter of the Government, but Minister Hew has failed the party and Cayman. He can’t even get a few more clerks to serve the public more timely in the 3 DVL locations. I renewed my licensce online on December 30th and as at January 16th, I have not received the sticker in the mail. Minister Hew is good at talking to the public and takes some awesome photos for the press. I guess that is very important makes him a great Minister.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Anyone experiencing the new harassment of the car behind you at a junction or roundabout deciding you have enough room to go and honking? They are usually Jamaicans (and yes you can tell). This never use to be, it is imported.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Was this person crossing the road using the designated ped-xcrossing at the WB cemetary location?
    Just trying to understand this terrible situation.

    • Anonymous says:

      He was following all the rules and laws in a third world country. The person who ran him down was not named. No picture in the paper, No info. What does that tell you?

      • Anonymous says:

        In 3rd world countries there are very little road rules and even less pedestrian crossings. So Cayman Isl. must be at least 2nd! There is usually no name/picture/info/etc. until the investigation completes. So no idea what you mean.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The roads aren’t the issue. Teh solution is to make all Caymanians and Jamaicans retake a dirving theory and pracrical test, and for the police to actually d their job. Difficult though – I see police cars breaking traffic rules every day. Not indicating, not using he inner most available lane on the highway, tailgating is seen as normal here. In the UK where I’m from 50% of drivers on these roads would be disqualified within a week. The locals and Jamaicans driving is so bad.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree there are some idiotic drivers on the roads, but they are certainly not limited to the groups you have singled out…. I have witnessed many drivers of all nationalities, genders, & economic tiers (judging by some of the fancy vehicles these absolute retards are in), pull some cringe worthy stunts… even some proudly displaying the old Union Jack ! … so next time you are on the road…please buckle up, stay alert, practice caution & courtesy…. & remove those bias tinted glasses ✌🏽

      Together we can prevent these tragic events from occurring…. I’m in, are you?

      A Caymanian Male

  12. Anonymous says:

    Forget Joey, give these students the job! This is why we say we need young minds to run our islands!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am in my sixties and get around on a bicycle. I have been knocked off three time and had two trips to the hospital in an ambulance. Drivers simply do not care and seem to view bicycles and pedestrians on narrow roads as somehow infringing their perceived right of way. Many even honk their horns at you to get out of their way. Not many slow down to pass or pass with a safe distance. Trucks are the worse. So much money is invested in the police like an air support unit to combat drugs, but little in protecting life on the roads. Even the standard of police driving is poor. Those of you that will respond with the usual riding without lights, wrong way etc should bear in mind that not all cyclists do this. I have lights and ride on the left, some roundabouts I cannot use because it is a suicide mission and riding around it in the left lane as the NRA say is just pure stupidity, you will surely be involved in a collision with a car spinning off from the inside lane with no indication.

    • Anonymous says:

      The standard of CAribbean driving and the police are so bad. I am from the UK and have been here 10 years, every day I see police cars and locals driving terribly and they would be disqualified in the Uk – not indicating off roundabouts for example, speeding, just general terrible driving. This is one fit he things that makes Caymanians embarrassing when they think they are worthy of the real world – they wouldn’t last 2 weeks in London.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Joey who?

  15. Anonymous says:

    And all of the unfinished roadwork doesn’t help matters. Shamrock Road, for example…when will the work be done?

  16. Road Safety

    It is good to join with younger people in the cause of changing driving habits for the better. In my view the fundamental issue is for any machine operator, such as the driver of a vehicle, to understand that his driver’s licence (or operator licence) grants him or her a privilege that can and should be withdrawn if the privilege is abused. To drive on Cayman’s roads must be seen to be a privilege which can be maintained only by keeping to the road code. Every drivers’ licence grant and every renewal should require the driver to sign a statement of undertaking to obey the Cayman Road Code.

  17. Wayne Dillermand says:

    The students of Protect our Future should be commended but until there is some kind of joined up thinking between CIG departments little is likely to change. A simple strategy following the three ‘E’s would be a start; Engineering- improved road design/traffic calming measures. Education- have a meaningful road safety strategy and proper driver assessment etc. Enforcement-a well resourced traffic department, criminalising drink driving, heavy fines for phone use, proper annual vehicle testing, police powers to seize badly driven/unroadworthy vehicles.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Traffic police don’t exist so people continue to drive like absolute maniacs.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Still praying for Coach Greg’s full recovery! A sweet gentle soul who has had a positive effect on many children and Cayman In general.

    It warms my heart to see some of kids coming together for a worthy cause in his name.

    Get well soon Coach Greg! We love you!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Caribbean Drivers with no drivers education

    • Pathetically Apathetic Minister of Ed. says:

      Drivers Education needs to be mandatory in all High Schools. That might a good place to start if Ju Ju wasn’t so apathetic on this issue too as well as implementing a higher standard of education in general. Maybe these young activists can lobby a change for the better.

      • Anonymous says:

        Drivers Ed was amazing when I was in school. We had weird driving simulator booths and were shown horrendous movies taken at crash sites. They showed people literally torn apart. It was very sobering, which we needed. I doubt that the movies could be shown now. Reality is not in fashion.

      • Anonymous says:

        Many schools in the US stopped offering Drivers Ed and instead teens use private instructors or parent-taught courses.

        The absence of drivers education is definitely a big problem in Cayman. Unless the rules for learners license in Cayman have changed in the last 25 years, there is no specified skill set that must be learned/practiced before the driving test. I got my full license less than 4 months after I got my learners and ZERO formal training… hindsight, that is terrifying.

        Here in the US, my kids had to have their permit (learners license) for a minimum of 6 months before taking their test but most kids have permits for about a year as that is what is allowed. Age 15 for permit and age 16 for license. Before they can even get their permit, they have get verification of enrollment from their high school, complete part of the Drivers Ed program online and pass a road rules and road signs test. Once the permit is issued they can start practicing their driving (with a licensed driver aged 21 and up) and do the remaining online modules of their Drivers Ed. There is a driving log for 30 additional hours that shows what skills must be practiced (eg day, night, parking, highway driving, etc). There is an online drug and alcohol course that is mandatory and a distracted driving course that is mandatory. When all of those are completed, another verification of enrollment is received, and child is 16, they can take driving test. Until age 18, drivers are prohibited from driving between midnight and 5am unless directly to/from school event or work, cannot have more than one passenger under age 21 unless it’s an immediate family member and no use of a communication device while driving (even hands free). This graduated license program has proven to be safer for kids.

  21. Anonymous says:

    We went through this with “Matt Safe” and the did nothing to make it better. 20 years gone and same is happening.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly, you are correct but that’s partly because the whole road safety campaign, which I was involved in during 2006/7, was a complete mess. Do you remember StreetSkills? That was run by people who hadn’t got a clue about road safety and accident prevention. They had a lot of impressive theories but knew nothing about motor vehicles and didn’t even understand basic traffic law. That’s what has held this back. To start off two basic issues need to be tackled – driver licensing and vehicle inspection. If you took all the drivers and vehicles that would never be allowed on the roads in any First World country off the road things would get much, much safer here overnight. While people are allowed to backdoor their driving tests, use foreign licences that aren’t worth the plastic they’re printed on and drive unroadworthy wrecks with ‘inspections’ that a friend signed off for them you’ll never move this problem on.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Ben Sommerville, along with CITA tourism stakeholders, and Chamber of Commerce, should sit down with Joey Hew and ask pointedly: where are the bicycle lanes that were promised and budgeted for in the 2015-2020 NRA Plan? What happened to that money? If there had been bollards or traffic-regulating humps on the side of the road where Coach Greg and his dog had been, we would not have to read articles like this. It’s inexcusable after what happened to the pedestrian at Yacht Club, and the cyclist in George Town. We have suffered years and years of these kinds of unnecessary accidents, while adding to serious traffic congestion, for single occupant trips which probably don’t require a car at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      But Joey painted some green squares on the road, so all is well.

    • nauticalone345 says:

      I recall travelling to Tortola BVI years ago, and while the roads were in no better condition than ours (for the most part) they did have numerous speed bumps to cause drivers to slow down – even that would help at strategic locations.

      I remember just a couple years ago now in Lower Valley (a road way long past it’s designed purpose) Mr. Carl Farrell, a long time employee of Cayman Airways (and as helpful and pleasant a soul as could be) was run down right in front of his home, while trying to cross the street.

      It’s such a crying shame how little prevention is accomplished here in our little islands.

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