Road Safety Exhibit Shifts Driving Culture

When Frankie Campbell was a first grader at William Gordon Primary School he was hit by a car while crossing Wulff Road. Frightened, the six-year-old returned home. Too afraid to tell his mother he kept the news a secret until the pain in his left leg grew unbearable, forcing him to speak up.

“I’m grateful it wasn’t worse than that, but it could have been,” said Mr. Campbell, the Minister of Transport and Local Government. “I’m privileged to be in a position where I could help prevent that from happening to somebody else.”

Mr. Campbell’s comments came on the sidelines of a road safety exhibit held at the Mall at Marathon on Saturday, May 12, in commemoration of the United Nations Global Road Safety Week, an initiative backed by the FIA, the governing body for motor sports world-wide; the Ministry of Transport; the Bahamas Motor Sports Association, and the National and Junior Road Safety Committees.

Citing the two dozen or so traffic fatalities occurring this year the Minister is troubled by road deaths mounting almost as quickly as homicides which numbers around 30.

“For every person who dies there is a family affected,” said Mr. Campbell, a retired police force officer who spent 29 years in law enforcement. “What is worse, we don’t hear about the persons who don’t die, but become disabled or totally dependent on constant care. Those numbers we don’t hear about because they do not make headlines.”

A ride in the Formula One race simulator, which sat just outside Kelly’s House & Home entrance, drove home the message that texting and driving do not mix. Across the globe, distracted driving – mostly due to texting – is contributing to a spike in traffic fatalities. According to world stats, a child dies on his or her way to school every 30 seconds.

At the legal speed limit of 30 mph, a car travels 44 feet every second so just glancing at a cell phone can easily cause an accident resulting in injury, or worse.

“People texting while driving is absolutely lethal,” said event organizer David McLaughlin, FIA representative and president of the Bahamas Motor Sports Association. “Kids have a tremendous influence on their parents so we hope that they return home and take the message of the 10 Golden Rules of Road Safety.”

Those leaflets were distributed by the Junior Road Safety Officers to members of the public browsing the mall Saturday. The group of fourth and fifth graders of Columbus Primary School and Gavin Tynes Primary School hope to change a driving culture for the better.

“Drivers do not often observe rules and regulations as it relates to road safety,” said Ross Smith, Road Traffic Controller. “This is the beginning, I think, to get people aware and more importantly ensure that our children are safe on the streets.”

After test driving the simulator Mr. Campbell came to a startling realization. “I’m not as good a driver as I thought I was. I’ll practice some more and get it right,” he assured. “Through the simulator I’m satisfied that our youngsters will get a real feel of what it’s like to be on the road.”

The Ministry of Transport has adopted the slogan, “Road Safety Is Everybody’s Business All The Time.”

 “We understand the importance of road safety and know how vital it is for children, particularly those who walk to school, to understand the importance of road safety,” said Royal Bahamas Defence Force officer, Delvonne Duncombe who came out to support the exhibit.

Through an EduKarting partnership, Lieutenant Duncombe will oversee the popular go-kart program’s delivery to junior and senior high school students enrolled in the RBDF Rangers (junior marines) on New Providence and the Family Islands.

Said Lieutenant Duncombe: “It’s important to focus on the pedestrian role in road safety for our younger kids, but equally important to focus on road safety as it relates to teen drivers on and off the race course.”