Drive For Change

Reclaim our roads: emotional families help launch

  • Clear message: one of the Drive for Change campaigners on East Broadway near Hamilton yesterday morning (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The daughter of a young woman killed on Bermuda’s roads pointed to a memorial sign with her mom’s name on it and said: “That’s my mommy.”

It was a moment of heartbreak at yesterday morning’s launch of The Royal Gazette’s road safety campaign Drive for Change — and a reminder of the human cost of crashes.

The young girl spotted her mother’s name on one of 118 signs held up to commemorate those lost on Bermuda’s roads in the past ten years.

Shari-Lynn Pringle, campaign manager for A Piece of the Rock, official partners of Drive for Change, said: “I almost crumbled.

“Tears came immediately. It’s going to take all of us. It’s an entire community affair. We all just have to do something differently.”

People gathered at the roadside on East Broadway near Hamilton included the mothers and fathers, family members and friends of people whose lives were cut short. The crowd also included those who knew people hurt in traffic incidents or who had themselves been injured.

The word that resonated most was “impactful” — those who have dealt with the aftermath of tragedy on the roads felt a welling of emotion as the names and ages of the island’s road fatalities were displayed.

The messages on the campaign signs were a stark reminder of the devastation — “10 years — 118 Road Deaths”, “How Many More?” and “How Will You Be The Change?”.

Keisha Douglas, principal at the Berkeley Institute, said that the sight of the names of those who had died, including many she knew, struck to the heart.

Ms Douglas added: “I think this initiative is absolutely awesome. It helps to remind us of those we have lost to the roads.

“As an educator, I look at the signs and I see so many signs with names of classmates and students — it is really humbling.

“We don’t realise the seriousness of the situation until we actually see the names and realise there have been 118 persons in a short span of time who have lost their lives. We take life for granted.

“I look at the ages on some of the plaques — life is not promised and all we have to do is slow down and take our time, be assertive and be good drivers on Bermuda’s roads.

“I also realise that this brings a lot of pain to the families that they leave behind.”

It was an early rise as schoolchildren and other supporters gathered at Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute car park for a 7am photoshoot and short briefing before the main event.

But there was a sense of determination all around.

Bermuda Police Service motorbikes lined up, their lights flashing, and gave the crowd a sense of security and a sense that action would be taken.

Those who have grieved and suffered had the chance to talk to each other and get a sense that the problem is at last getting the attention it deserves.

One mother said she felt she was part of a real movement for change.

Pupils from island schools played their part with reverence and respect and shrugged off the drizzle. Many of them said they had lost friends and classmates even at their young age.

One pupil said: “Today is basically to let you guys know to slow down and be cautious and aware of what’s going on.”

Another added: “I think by raising awareness we can really make drivers more conscious of how they drive and make the roads safer.”

The pupils told Bermuda what, deep down, it already knows.

It is time to set a proper example — Bermuda does not want 118 more road deaths.