It’s not often you can look at an incoming piece of legislation and honestly think - about time.
From the first week in October all motorists will be subject to a set of rules which should make us all safer. They are all obvious and should have been in place years ago.
So, to avoid any doubt, over the next few months the government is going to embark on an education drive to make sure we know if we get behind the wheel that’s going to mean:
- No mobile phone
- No open top alcohol
- You must have a full driver’s licence
- You must have insurance
Some of these stipulations are going to be easier to achieve than others.
Insurance will be an issue for many motorists simply because of the costs involved. How many people do you know who happily drive without insurance believing they’ll get away with it so long as they are not involved in an accident.
From October you get pulled over for speeding and an officer will ask for insurance then the gamble will cost more than obtaining insurance in the first place.
Open top alcohol should be a no-brainer. Should anyone be driving with a bottle of beer in their hand? Most countries have a virtual zero tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol and driving. We suspect it’ll be many a year before such a thing arrives here but everyone should be able to drive from Point A to Point B without having to have an alcoholic drink in their hand.
Having a proper driver’s licence seems obvious but we should ask just how rigorous is the process in obtaining one? Most developed countries insist would-be drivers have a long series of lessons - both practical and theoretical - before sitting a live-drive examination. Often many fail the first time and have to repeat the process all over again.
Finally there is the curse of the cell phone drivers. At any point, on any road in our country you will see a driver with a phone pressed to their ear. We stood outside The Tribune office on Shirley Street this afternoon for no more than 10 minutes and there dozens of drivers we saw go by on their phones.
Part of the problem may be a lot of the cars on the roads here are older, imported vehicles which do not have hands-free capability where the cell phone can use a bluetooth connection allowing the driver to take calls over the car’s sound system. Some reduction in this may happen over time as the imports reach a stage when hands-free became a standard feature of most vehicles.
There have been initiatives before to encourage people not to use their phones behind the wheel. They’ve all failed. Now it’ll be the law and a fine if you take the risk.
We hope it works - for the safety of all of us on the road.
We should welcome Britain’s return
With impeccable timing the government announced yesterday the British High Commission will reopen in Nassau next month.
The Commission was closed 20 years ago with its responsibilities picked up by British diplomats in Jamaica. Now, as Boris Johnson assumes the British premiership, the Commission will return.
The decision to bring back a High Commissioner was taken many months ago and can be tracked back directly to the tortuous Brexit drama which has crippled British politics for more than two years and led to Johnson’s ascendancy.
The reasons for its return are obvious. As Britain pulls up its drawbridge on Europe it is going to need as many friends as it can get, especially if the former European partners decide to make things tough on the UK as a trading partner.
No doubt the British Foreign Office thought who better than our old colonial friends? Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada will be at the top of the British charm offensive owing to the size of their markets but smaller nations like us will also soon find ourselves welcoming missions from the likes of the Confederation of British Industries, Chambers of Commerce and universities desperate to open their classes to our students (alongside the fees they will to pay).
The Bahamas, we are sure, will welcome our old friends and masters but with our eyes wide open. Times have changed since 1999 and we are wiser to the ways of the world.