Traffic fatalities increased this year as compared to 2017. There have been 59 in 2018, according to Marino Hinds, acting officer in charge of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Traffic Division. Last year there were 54. In 2016, 44 people died in traffic accidents.
Driving our streets, you see the problems quickly. Motorists run red lights frequently. People are texting and driving. On highways some near 100 miles per hour. Impaired driving is common.
These bad practices lead to serious injuries and deaths.
The government has said it is examining stricter penalties for hit-and-run accidents and to criminalize the use of cell phones and other electronic communication devices while driving, along with making it illegal to drive with open alcoholic beverages.
These moves could help. But a major change that is needed is heightened, consistent police presence and aggressive enforcement of traffic laws.
You could drive for long periods here in New Providence and not see a police car. That should not be in a place with a crime problem.
The government has said the police force has vehicle and constable shortages it is trying to remedy – new cars were commissioned yesterday. Those issues need to be resolved in 2019.
We have not been able to organize and equip the police force ensuring consistent presence across our communities. Police surge from time to time – like now during the holiday season. However, when these operations cease, visible patrols decrease significantly.
The wild and irresponsible behavior of motorists will only be reduced if there is enforcement and follow through to ensure people pay fines when police issue them.
Murder count remains down significantly
Police are investigating back-to-back double homicides. One incident occurred Monday morning, the other Tuesday night.
According to police, there have been 86 murders this year. At the end of November last year there were 117. 2017 ended with 122 murders.
Murders began trending downward at the end of 2017. That trend held throughout 2018, thus far.
From 2011 to 2017, more than 100 people were murdered each year. This could be the first year since 2010 that there were fewer than 100 murders.
No sensible person thinks the crime fight has been won because of this one-year decline. The Ministry of National Security and Royal Bahamas Police Force admit there is still far too much crime in The Bahamas.
For a population our size there should be 20 or fewer murders per year. We are a long, long way from being where we should be. But progress happens in stages, and it is slowly taking place.
We all should hope things quiet down in December after these twin killings, and that next year the downward trend that started at the end of 2017 continues.