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Reproduced from Cayman Compass, 20 November. Credit: Rebecca Bird

National road safety plan aims to eliminate road deaths by 2038

A newly published Cayman-wide road safety plan sets out how the government can cut deaths, injuries and offences on the islands’ roads over the next 15 years.

Among the suggestions are sidewalks along all roads, speed cameras, cycle paths, road safety education in schools, and enforcement of tougher penalties for traffic offences.

The main targets in the Cayman Islands National Road Safety Strategy 2023-2038 are to reduce road fatalities by 30% by 2028 and to eradicate them entirely by 2038.

The report comes as the number of road deaths in the Cayman Islands, particularly in Grand Cayman, remains significantly higher than many other developed countries.

In 2022, 2,915 road traffic collisions resulted in 32 serious injuries and 14 fatalities on Cayman’s roads.

“These statistics reflect not only a tragic loss of multiple lives but bear a huge cost to the community,” Premier Wayne Panton said in his foreword in the report.

He said the strategy provides “the next course of action for how we work together to save lives, reduce injuries and deliver safety as the standard we all live by on Cayman’s roads”.

Infrastructure and Public Transport Minister Jay Ebanks dubbed the strategy, the “Road to Zero” because of its aim to eliminate deaths on Cayman’s roads.

He said this will be done by using the “three Es of road safety” which are engineering, education and enforcement.

The challenges
The road safety record of the Cayman Islands is similar to the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean, according to the National Road Safety Working Group’s 59-page report.

However, it is significantly higher than many other developed countries, which have far lower rates of death on their roads.

Over the four years 2015–2018, there were, on average, 13.33 road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants in Cayman, compared to 11 fatalities per 100,000 in North America.

An “unacceptably high” number of road traffic collisions also occur across Cayman each year, according to the report, with eight to 10 taking place daily.

It says there are six challenges that influence the rate of incidents: population growth, diversity, transience, the transport system, road infrastructure and road safety custodian.

Population growth

As the population grows, so does the number of vehicles and pedestrians on the roads, the report says.

The number of registered vehicles in the past five years alone has grown from 36,194 to 45,664 – an increase of 26%.


Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands is home to more than 120 different nationalities and with this diversity, driving standards and expectations are varied.

For example, roundabouts are relatively uncommon globally and many drivers encounter them for the first time on Cayman’s roads.


The majority of Cayman’s population is transient, with work permit holders forming the largest portion of road users.

This high population turnover creates a challenge in effectively implementing road safety initiatives, and increased and constant education efforts are needed, the report continues.

Transport system

The limited public transport system cannot support the needs of the growing population, and, as a result, a very high number of vehicles are imported every year.

The strategy says that between 2018 and 2022, 23,958 vehicles were imported, resulting in increased congestion on the roads.


Road infrastructure development and upgrades have not kept pace with the increased numbers of vehicle imports and road users, creating heavy congestion and more collisions.

Road safety custodian

And finally, there is no nationally recognised body or agency in the Cayman Islands with responsibility for road safety at a strategic level, the report says.

Making moves

In 2014, the National Roads Authority partnered with the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) to conduct a national network safety assessment.

The goal was to identify sections of Cayman’s roads where improvements could lead to a reduction in serious and fatal accidents.

The study considered speed limits, roadside objects, poor lighting, improper lane markings, and signage as key in determining the star rating for each road.

It released its findings later that year, with most roads achieving a safety rating of three out of five stars or less for vehicle occupants, and lower ratings for pedestrians or cyclists.

As a result of the iRAP assessment, the National Roads Authority committed to applying its detailed recommendations to improve road safety.

It introduced fluorescent yellow-green lighted pedestrian crossing signs, highway safety guardrails, anti-skid surfacing, rumble strips, lighted pedestrian crossings, sharrows, speed radar and check signs, road shoulders and clear zone requirements.

However, Cayman’s population continues to grow, now exceeding 81,456 people and 45,664 motor vehicles, “creating a significant challenge for road safety”, Panton said.

A joint effort
The report aims to reinforce partnerships between the government, local groups, stakeholders and the community.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility which does not belong to one institution or the government alone,” Panton said. “A concerted effort is required by all stakeholders and the general public to make Cayman’s roads safe for all.”

The National Roads Authority will lead the development of action plans and coordination across the key government agencies delivering road safety improvements.

The National Road Safety Working Group, made up of members of the government, public sector and the community, will be consulted throughout the strategy’s implementation.

“In developing the strategy, we engaged extensively with the community, as well as road safety experts, sharing evidence about what saves lives and reduces injuries,” Panton said.

“From this, we have identified issues and trends that need to be tackled and there is a strong community support for more action.”

Quick wins

Among some of the immediate plans for increased road safety, or “quick wins”, contained in the strategy are:

  • Enforcement of tougher penalties for traffic offences, including driving under the influence of alcohol and/or illegal substances, speeding offences and distracted driving
  • Greater enforcement of the distracted driving laws currently in place (including those governing the prevalent use of cell phones while driving)
  • Targeting high-risk behaviour through a new Royal Cayman Islands Police Service enforcement strategy
  • Review and investment in road safety public education campaigns to ensure messaging is effective, engaging and targeted at high-risk groups
  • Implementation of lower speed limit schemes for high pedestrian-activity areas and roads with high volumes of cyclists
  • Increased safety for vulnerable road users by providing pedestrian crossings, refuges and traffic calming devices, as well as expanding 25mph zones in high pedestrian areas
  • Review and invest in road safety education campaigns targeting key behavioural issues and at-risk groups, including understanding of and compliance with the Road Code
  • Prioritising the development of safer roads so that the design, engineering and construction of all new roads will meet a minimum 4-Star iRAP rating and to include adequate provision of all road user categories: pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers of vehicles including HGVs
  • Wider enforcement of safety belt laws
  • Protecting vulnerable non-motorised road users via: mandatory sidewalks along entire road length, as opposed to sections, including shade from trees; prioritisation of good road design and safety; and education of tourists and visitors who may be unfamiliar with Cayman’s roads and rules

Short- to medium-term goals

Among some of the short- to medium-term plans for increased road safety are:

  • Implementing vigorous research and evaluation of: emerging vehicle and infrastructure technology; trials and evaluation of new road and roadside safety products, such as barrier technology and signage; and how effective road safety programmes are implemented
  • Tackling drink- and drug-influenced driving behaviours by strengthening penalties and enhancing enforcement, including: increased penalties for driving under the influence; and swift, strong and certain penalties for lower range drink driving and drug presence first offenders
  • Developing a speed camera strategy through legislative change that allows the camera-based technology to enforce speeding offences ensuring drivers and riders travel at safe speeds
  • Partnering with the police service to deliver an enhanced enforcement programme which targets and deters unsafe road use across the islands
  • Creating, implementing and supporting national programmes and target-setting
  • Improving the design of existing roads to provide bike lanes which both ensure the safety of cyclists and encourages more bike lane use, thus reducing the number of cars on the road
  • Promoting road safety education for all road users: targeting children at an early age; executing and maintaining road safety campaigns through traditional and social media; and introducing drivers’ education and licensing programmes for students of driving age

Long-term goals

Among the long-term plans for increased road safety contained within the strategy are:

  • Developing a new heavy vehicle strategy in tandem with the heavy vehicle industry to improve operational safety and increase the uptake of safety technology
  • Enhancing the government vehicle fleet policy to increase the number of vehicles on the roads that become part of the used car market with lifesaving technologies, including autonomous emergency braking and other driver-assist technologies
  • Ensuring mandatory curriculum-based road safety education from early childhood through schooling, ensuring every child in the Cayman Islands develops an understanding of how to use roads safely as they grow
  • Working as a member of the New Car Assessment Programme to encourage the development, testing and purchase of safer new and used vehicles
  • Implementing a graduated licensing scheme to develop young drivers
  • Providing high-quality and enhanced data and analysis of fatal and serious injury crashes, made available to the public and implement a robust research programme
  • Supporting the development of safer vehicles to promote the design of smarter, safer vehicles with life-saving technology and increase the number of people that choose the safest vehicles
  • Delivering a safer roads programme providing annual improvements to road safety infrastructure across the islands

Click here to download the Strategy.

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