Drivers who are drunk or need to use their phones should stay off the roads. This is the message of a new public education campaign by the Streetskill team that launches tomorrow (Tuesday, 12 February 2013).
In February the campaign will target persons who drive while using their mobile phones, by highlighting the risks that they pose to themselves and others. The focus in March turns to preventing drunk driving.
Since the start of the New Year, Streetskill spokesperson Chief Inspector Angelique Howell says there have been 80 persons prosecuted for mobile phone use while driving, and 25 arrested for drunk driving.
"We hope that people will understand that in both cases there are safer alternatives. If you need to use the phone, pull over to the side of the road. If you are going drinking, arrange for a designated driver. These arrangements may seem very simplistic, or even inconvenient, but they could save your life and those of your family and friends," Inspector Howell remarks.
She notes that research in the United States has shown that driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity dedicated to driving by more than a third (Carnegie Mellon 2007.) Meanwhile a Yale study in 2004 confirmed that amount of alcohol that a driver ingests impairs decision-making and increases risk-taking.
There were 1245 traffic accidents in 2012, as well as 191 DUI arrests and five fatalities in the same year.
This year's campaign will be delivered primarily through media appearances by Insp. Howell and other Streetskill members, but also through public service announcements and social media.
The Streetskill Team is a sub-committee of the National Road Safety Strategy Committee, a group that includes the National Roads Authority, Department of Vehicle and Driver Licensing, the Public Works Department, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service and Government Information Services.
Since 2006 it has conducted campaigns on the topics of drunk driving and mobile phone use while driving, but also bike and scooter safety, speeding, as well as road-crossing guidelines for schoolchildren.