By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
The man who died in an overnight traffic accident was not in possession of a valid driver's license at the time of his death, traffic officials confirmed today.
Officer-in-charge of the Traffic Division Superintendent Craig Stubbs said the victim, 27-year-old McKinley Eugene, was only in possession of a provisional learners permit that had expired in 2013. Superintendent Stubbs said the car – a 2005 Nissan Note – belonged to a person known to victim.
Superintendent Stubbs also said that New Providence has recorded nine traffic fatalities this year, with two recorded in Grand Bahama.
He said the accident on the Tonique Williams-Darling Highway last night marked the third to take place on that thoroughfare this year. The fatal accident came 11 days after a woman, her four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter were critically injured after attempting to cross the highway.
"Our investigations have revealed that the victim at the time was driving a 2005 Nissan Note, and he was not, in any form, qualified to drive such a vehicle," Superintendent Stubbs said of last night's incident. "He was in possession of a provisional learners permit that had expired since the year 2013."
Superintendent Stubbs added: "He did not meet the requirements to operate that vehicle according to law. The principal cause we can say was speed and inexperience that resulted in that traffic fatality that claimed his life."
According to Superintendent Stubbs, Mr Eugene was traveling west in the southernmost lane on the highway, when, after passing a vehicle, he lost control and veered off the road and across the median.
The vehicle subsequently went airborne, overturned and landed upside down on top of a Cherokee Jeep headed east.
The driver of the Jeep sustained minor injuries and glass particles to his face. However, Superintendent Stubbs said Mr Eugene, "based on all indication would have died on impact of both vehicles."
Superintendent Stubbs could not confirm the speed that the deceased was making at the time of his death, but said their sources confirmed that the deceased was driving "in excess of the speed limit”.
Superintendent Stubbs said the investigation was still ongoing, but said there would be charges levied against the vehicle's owner once police have ascertained just how Mr Eugene came to be in possession of the car.
He said the Police Traffic Department was concerned by what appears to be a "growing trend" by some delinquent drivers.
"We have cases where persons would insure the vehicle and within the space of 2-3 months they would go back and cancel the policy," he said. "Road traffic is not informed, but those of you who know, on the licence disc it will give you a date of expiration for that said policy of the insurance company. That remains on the vehicle for a year and, in the interim, the individual is driving that vehicle for a year without any insurance coverage.
"This is a concern for us, a concern for other members of the public who have lost loved ones, who have had extensive damage done to their vehicle or their private properties. It is a concern that we want to say to all members of the public, if you are an owner of a vehicle and you're going to allow a family member or a friend to drive such a vehicle, we ask you to make sure they are covered by the insurance policy.
He added: "Persons who have a learners permit, they are only eligible to drive that vehicle with an insured or adult person who is in possession of a valid drivers license. No person holding a learners permit should be able to operate a vehicle without being accompanied by a licensed driver."
However, Superintendent Stubbs said traffic fatalities were down in comparison to the same period last year, and said police are seeking new strategies to try and curb the problem.
"For the same period last year I will say that we are down," he said. "Reason being a lot of initiatives are in place during the Easter break. The Easter break of last year is where we saw that high volume of recorded incidents coming in from the Family Islands. This year that is not the case. So based on that trend we see it's down for the period.
"We have initiated speed checks. Everywhere we go, we would engage in speed checks to enforce the speed limits within that zone. We are also dialoguing with the Ministry of Transport and Aviation and the Ministry of Works to see how best we can put in other measures to curb speed within those zones.
He added: "We have speed operations now in place and within the past week we cited over 100 plus drivers who were driving in excess of the speed limit, especially these corridors where we found the speed is contributing to the many accidents we see."