By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
FATAL traffic crashes in the country declined by 14 percent in 2019, with 54 incidents reported, according to newly released Royal Bahamas Police Force statistics. In 2018, police said there were 63 crashes that resulted in deaths.
The number of victims also declined by 17 percent - with 57 in 2019 from 69 in 2018. The majority of victims were between 26-years-old and 35, the majority of them male. While there were declines on two major islands, fatal crashes by island increased on smaller Family Islands.
In New Providence, there was a 21 percent drop with 33 fatal crashes in 2019 compared with 42 in 2018.
Grand Bahama also experienced a decline with six incidents last year and 11 in 2018. This constituted a 45 percent drop.
However, police said incidents in the Family Islands shot up by 50 percent with 15 in 2019, compared with ten in 2018.
The frequency of traffic related deaths led to government making legislative changes in 2019.
In October it became illegal to use handheld devices or have an open alcoholic beverage while driving, according to new amendments to the Road Traffic Act.
The amendments also require the payment of outstanding traffic offence fines before renewing a driver’s licence and motorists are also required to immediately produce a licence and insurance certificate upon the request of a police officer.
Driving instructors are further prohibited from holding electronic devices under the new law but the stipulation does not apply to those driving emergency vehicles or a vehicle that is lawfully parked and not impeding traffic. The amendments also mean motorists are able to make a cautious left turn on a red traffic light.
Amendments to the Road Traffic Act tabled in December propose prison time of up to 15 years for a new offence of vehicular manslaughter by reckless driving.