By Jerry Roker
for Bahamas Press
“They left the scene in a heavily tinted Honda…” “He left on a motor bike with a helmet that had a tinted visor…”
Over the last, say 10 years, we can only imagine how many times statements like the ones above have been given to police officers by victims of, and witnesses to crimes.
In recent memory, I cannot think of any earth-shattering initiative undertaken, by successive governments to force our criminal underbelly into any form of rethink that might either serve as a deterrent or facilitate apprehension and summary justice.
No citizen should have to suffer from anxiety attacks, because a car pulls up along side of them and the occupants can see you, but you can’t see them; and likewise, a motor cyclist doing the same thing, but his helmet visor is tinted to the point where he cannot be seen. Something must be wrong with this. What is so special about citizens who are allowed to move through our streets freely, being able to see all and sundry, but we cannot see them?
It is my view, that all motorist be given a final warning that they have a fixed period of time to remove the heavy tints from their vehicles, after which, they must suffer the consequences of the law. The same should apply to the tinted visors.
I favor a ban on helmets with tinted visors.
With countless crimes having been committed by persons whose identities have been masked by full-faced, visored helmets and heavily tinted vehicles— some in the commission of capital offences, we need to do the right thing.
If it is fine to allow darker windscreens on cars to reduce air-conditioning costs, how can it not be acceptable to draft, debate and pass legislation with a view to making it difficult for those who would do us and our international reputation harm?
Anything that hinders the activities of criminals is a good thing.
There is always a price to pay. There needs to be for us to get this right. It may be best to pay compensation to owners of these offensive helmets over the course of an amnesty period to turn them in, than pay with the loss of life should the next robbery target endeavour to stand up for himself or herself.
Rather simplistic. And, yes, if the criminals want to take that route, let them. Better than allowing them to slip on a black-visored helmet and mix in with the masses who believe it cool not to be able to be seen, when the manufacturer’s intent surely was to protect from the sun’s glare.
Legally in Britain, the tint allowed on visors is 50 per cent. The Essential Guide to Protective Gear for Bikers states that “during daylight hours a tint of up to 50 per cent is OK — legal tinted visors will be marked ‘For daylight use only’.”
Were that law enforced here, we would not have an issue because the darkest visor would be a see-through that provided the necessary protection from the sun. And at night, while a criminal may still employ a “legal” helmet with visor down to commit a crime, CCTV cameras would have a significantly better chance of leading to an arrest. So to the legislation and the steps required to make this work.
First to the businesses who import and sell such helmets — the dealers, cycle liveries, repair shops — cease and desist. Compensation to be paid for stock that has been brought in, which would then be sent to a government facility to be destroyed. Bahamas Customs would be on the lookout for those who attempt to bypass the conventional middle man and “smuggle” their item into the country.
With helmet importation frozen and the store owners selling only what is acceptable by law, the next step is to give the public ample time to surrender their frowned-upon items and be in receipt of suitable compensation in return to buy a replacement. So as to head off the inevitable “helmets for cash” frenzy, which opens the door to more theft, persons would be restricted to one helmet each in the amnesty.
After this amnesty period of, say, three months, the police would be let loose to fully enforce the new law, starting with confiscating helmets and having them destroyed. Monies gained from the substantial fines for possessing an illegal helmet would help to offset the initial compensation costs. It is to be expected that the Government would come out of this with an operating balance in the red for this initiative, but it is indeed an initiative worth having — and long overdue.
Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, which lies just of the coast of southern India, took the uncomfortable decision to ban full-faced helmets for the same reasons — to take a bite out of crime. They, too, huffed and puffed with the legislation, but the difference was that they proceeded and made the helmets illegal. While the critics say the Sri Lankan lawmakers may have gone over the top and created safety issues by banning all full-faced helmets, whether or not they were fitted with dark-tinted visors, the result is that they have isolated the criminals and made the process of catching them that much easier.
As for heavily tinted vehicles, at the end of the amnesty period, anyone found driving one, in addition to being issued the appropriate sanction. Their vehicle ought to be impounded until such time as the tint is removed.
Why should The Bahamas resist anything like the above if they can make our lot safer for our citizens and visitors?