Catholic bishop promotes safer driving
The leader of the island’s Catholic church said religious groups can use their influence to promote safer driving.
Bishop Wes Spiewak is to mobilise his flock behind The Royal Gazette Drive for Change road safety campaign.
He said: “We as ministers, of any kind of denomination, all have the ability to make people more aware.
“At the end of my service I will say ‘drive safely’ and ‘not everyone you meet on the road will have received the same warning. I care for you, so drive safely. I want you to get home and have lunch with your family.”
Bishop Spiewak added: “This is what I am doing. I have close relationships with some ministers, so I can encourage them.
“I want our church not to be invasive but present in the social dimension.
“When I saw the Drive for Change campaign had launched, I was very happy because this bothers me.
I do not agree that people should be able to waste their lives so easily.”
Bishop Spiewak, who is Polish-born, said he planned to have banners promoting safe driving in two or three churches around the island.
He added: “They will say something like ‘I am a Christian and this is why I don’t drive dangerously’.
“I really believe that this change of mindset is essential.”
The Bishop has used his Bishop’s Corner bulletins to highlight road safety problems to thousands of Catholics and has also asked all members of the diocese to join the movement for safer roads.
Bishop Spiewak added he was sure a bigger police presence on the streets will help to improve the island’s grim road statistics.
He said: “We need more police on the streets. When the Polish were able to move abroad when the Iron Curtain came down, I used to drive to Austria and Germany where there is a very strong police presence with cameras and radar guns on the way into the cities.
“Once we left Poland and we were in Austria, everyone was braking before entering the city because of the cameras. Police presence is necessary — it is not that I am in favour of punishing people, but there has to be a consequence.”
Bishop Spiewak added that roadside breath tests and better driver training would also help boost safety on the roads, but he said a change of mindset in the worst offenders on the roads was vital.
The Bishop said there was a clear difference between the good nature of Bermudians and the way some drive and ride.
He added: “What is interesting in Bermuda is it is an incredible place of kindness. They greet one another and there is a lot of openness to other people, but there is something in their driving that is very selfish.
“I love the people here as they are so polite, kind and gentle, but then they get on their bike and something happens — I’m joking, but it’s like a demon has taken over.
“Not using indicators is simply not caring for others. It’s not just a question of my safety and it would make traffic more fluid, like at roundabouts.
“Or if I block the traffic all the people behind me are getting angry and frustrated, and what they do afterwards is a consequence of what I did.
“People don’t want to believe what the researchers or what the doctors are saying — they know better and nobody is going to tell me how to drive.”
He added: “If a person is under the influence when driving, it is like putting a gun in the hand of someone and it is an unsecured gun — this is the same thing that we have.”
For more information about the Drive for Change campaign visit driveforchange.rg.bm and click on “Be The Change”
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