In the early hours of August 8, 20-year-old Aleiny Reve Villegas lost her life in a tragic, single-vehicle accident on Eastern Avenue. While family and friends mourn, members of the public wonder what will be the fate of the 39-year-old female of George Town who was arrested on August 10, 2022 on suspicion of Causing Death by Dangerous Driving.
The consequences under the Traffic Act for the 39-year-old, if convicted, could be imprisonment for ten years and an automatic disqualification from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for a term of five years or such longer period as the court may order. The particulars of the offence will also be endorsed on the driver’s driving record.
In order for the court to get to that point, however, police must prove that the suspect was driving the vehicle on a road “dangerously or recklessly,” having regard to the manner of driving or to the defective condition of the vehicle, and by so doing caused the death of Ms Villegas.
Police gathering evidence
While police continue their investigation, one of the things they have reviewed was CCTV footage of the incident where it was observed that a small sedan was passed by the Honda Accord carrying Ms Villegas, just before the fatal collision. Police will therefore be appealing to the driver of that small sedan and any other person who may have witnessed the accident in order to gather evidence for the case.
Number of accidents alarming
The untimely passing of Ms Villegas adds to the high number of serious accidents that are reported in the Cayman Islands each year, with 2,633 motor vehicle accidents being attended by police officers in 2021, an increase of 466 vehicle accidents from 2020. This number may increase again in 2022 if the average of 51 motor vehicle accidents per week continues to be the norm.
Curbing the number of accidents
In order for serious accidents and road deaths to not become the norm, the behaviour of road users must change. This means drivers taking the decision not to drive if alcohol or other drugs are involved, not going over the speed limit or otherwise placing other road users in danger.
Authorities should also take a look into drivers’ licence qualifications in the Cayman Islands. In particular, they should examine the criteria for issuing drivers’ licences (minimum age for first time drivers’ licences, content of driving exam and requirements to pass the exam) and the process for transferring drivers’ licences from other jurisdictions to Cayman (as the jurisdiction that the driver is coming from may have lower driving standards than Cayman). Higher penalties for drivers may also need to be implemented, especially were drugs or speeding are contributing factors to an accident.