November 26, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Cellphones in cars, DART, the premier is amused – the editor is not, lost NOT found

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In an Associated Press article by Joan Lowy published on 15th Dec., the writer suggests, “When someone is talking to you, your brain is listening, processing and thinking about what’s being said — even if you’re in the driver’s seat trying to concentrate on traffic. That’s why drivers get distracted during cellphone conversations, even when using hands-free phones.”

The USA’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has just made a recommendation to ban hands-free as well as hand-held cellphones whilst driving. NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said, “It’s not where your hands are, but where your mind is that counts.”

A number of safety officers and bodies agree with her including a safety consultant formerly with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and analysis carried out by the Government of Sweden.

Another scientific study carried out in 2008 found the amount of brain devoted to driving was 37% less in drivers who could hear someone talking to them.

However, this hasn’t translated into an increase in highway fatalities in the USA that have hit their lowest level since 1949 last year.

The ban here in the Cayman Islands only applies to hand held mobile phones. If you have one that is affixed to your vehicle in a hands free unit that requires only one button to operate that is OK. However the ban does not apply to police offices. This is probably because their brain is different to the general public and they never have road accidents!

Perhaps the RCIPS should have a rethink and ban the use of cell phones altogether by people whilst driving, hand held or hands free. I wonder if any study has been done on people driving and listening to the radio and/or their passengers? Maybe it should be mandatory for drivers to wear earplugs but then they wouldn’t be able to hear the police sirens blaring at them to get out of their way or to stop. That is a distraction, too. And have you noticed how bright the new flashing signs are on top of the new police cars? I was so dazzled by them the other night I had to shield my eyes from their glare.

In the latest amendment to the Governor’s Vesting of Lands Law that relates to the management of crown or publically owned lands says: “The Governor in Cabinet may waive any of the requirements in the law” that would have forced government to bring a proper evaluation and a full report to the Legislative Assembly for public consultation before any transfer took place. This means the Government will be able to swap a stretch of the West Bay Road with Dart as planned without undertaking any of the requirements in the law regarding valuations, advertising of the intended swap or the tabling of a report in the Legislative Assembly (LA).

We will have to see if the Dart deal is brought to the LA because Jackie Doak, Chief Operation Officer for Dart Realty has publically said the group wanted to see the proper processes applied throughout the ForCayman Alliance with government, such as coastal work licenses and vested lands for all of the projects, even if it took longer than people would like. “It is important to Dart that the appropriate process is followed,” she said. However, she might not have known about the amendment that Hon. Juliana O’Connor Connolly brought to the LA in March 2005 when she was the Planning officer.
The Premier, Hon. McKeeva Bush, was shown on CITN-Cayman27 yesterday (21), laughing his head off in the GIS Conference Room, after asking the invited press attendees if they had any questions to ask. The only invited press representative was from the Caymanian Compass, at the premier’s instructions, to witness the signing of his Government’s deal with Dart that will see the aforementioned stretch of the West Bay Road closed. I know I didn’t laugh and I am sure CITN and Cayman News Service didn’t share his amusement.

With the 3,500- 4,000 strong signature petition against the ForCayman Alliance/Dart plans to close the road being handed to H.E. Governor Duncan Taylor just three days before (12) the premier’s announcement, I expect this added even more to his amusement.

A disabled member of the public wasn’t amused when she found that at the new Government Administrative Building there were no public disabled parking bays for her to use. The only ones there were behind a private barrier and were occupied by cars. She couldn’t tell if these cars carried a disabled persons badge. She was told, however, they were for disabled members of government staff only. When I looked around the public parking areas I couldn’t see any disabled parking bays either. I will be very happy to learn where they are.

Finally, and nothing amusing to finish on. Commissioner Baines has revealed the inquiry into the loss of the missing gun from the RCIPS arsenal is now closed. His interrogation of officers and search has revealed nothing (or he isn’t revealing it to us). I understand no disciplinary action is to be taken against anyone. He said new procedures had been implemented to make sure it would not happen again.

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