By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
IN the wake of the United States’ Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) cautioning tourists visiting the Bahamas about slow response times to traffic incidents, Superintendent Mareno Hinds said their response time is consistent with the response times across the Caribbean.
The OSAC report said: “If involved in a traffic accident, Bahamian law states the vehicles should not be moved until a police officer arrives to investigate the accident. The police can be slow to respond to vehicle accidents.”
Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Wednesday, Supt Hinds said they saw the report and their view is slightly different.
He said: “We believe that there is always room for improvement. We believe that within the parameters that how it is that we investigate traffic accidents. We seek to get better; however, we believe that our traffic response times are consistent with times across the Caribbean and indeed the world.”
The report also warned visitors to exercise extreme caution when renting vehicles.
“The Embassy continues to see a significant number of moped accidents, resulting in serious injury as a result of alcohol/drug impairment, driver inexperience, or inattention by the moped operator and/or other motorists,” the OSAC report said.
Supt Hinds said the amendments that will criminalise driving with an open alcoholic beverage will be passed in the Senate soon.
“We believe,” he said, “that in very short order that will become law. If people are keeping up to date with what is happening it has been passed in the House of Assembly.
“We’re waiting on it to be passed in the Senate and obviously it has to be signed and gazetted. Once it’s signed and published in an official gazette it becomes law that gives us power to cite drivers.”
Supt Hinds said driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offence.
“As our laws are presently constituted it is not an offence to drink alcohol. Now you have to fall within the parameters of being considered drunk or impaired which makes it then illegal to so do," he said.
"A police officer’s greatest tool is suspicion and we are all adults. Based on our suspicion, based on your experiences you can say that I suspect that this person may be impaired. Once you suspect that, there is a protocol (we) have to go through."
He added: "You, the police officer, thinking that person is impaired cannot say definitively that person is impaired...a physician scientifically says so that it holds up in court."
According to National Security Minister Marvin Dames, there were 63 traffic fatalities last year which represented a 29 percent increase from 2017. He said unfortunately, resulting from those 63 accidents were the deaths of 69 victims, reflecting a 28 percent increase from the previous year.
Of the traffic fatality victims by island, 42 of the fatalities occurred on New Providence, 11 on Grand Bahama and 10 on the remaining Family Islands, he said.