Barbadians recognise the importance of road safety to the overall development of the country, but more must be done to show it.
So said Minister of Transport and Works, Michael Lashley, as he welcomed delegates at the Second International Road Federation Caribbean Regional Congress at the Hilton Barbados Resort today.
Lashley noted that internationally, statistics indicate that road traffic crashes had become one of the major causes of death for young persons age 15 to 29 years.
The minister also noted that Barbados had seen a number of young persons cut short in the prime of their lives through serious accidents on the country’s roadways. Additionally, he said that in recent years the country has witnessed an increase in the number of collisions.
“Let me assure you that Barbados spends millions of dollars yearly on the importation of car parts caused by vehicular accidents; in addition the Ministry of Health spends even more treating the victims of such accidents,” Lashley said. “Likewise, there is a corresponding effect on productivity and there is the human suffering engendered.”
Lashley said this explained why Government had embarked on such road improvement programmes as increasing road markings, erecting directional signage, installing beacons, debushing various places to improve visibility, expanding the roads into two, three or four lanes, building bus lay-bys to allow passengers to embark or disembark from the vehicle in a safe manner and building a number of sidewalks for pedestrians to prevent them from walking in the path of vehicles.
The St. Philip North MP disclosed that in an attempt to further strengthen safety on the roads, his ministry was currently making amendments to the Road Traffic Act. He pointed out that the new legislation would include topics such as emissions, the frequency of inspection of both private and public service vehicles, the wearing of helmets by cyclists, the semi-annual inspection of public service vehicles, the annual inspection of private motor vehicles over a certain age, speeding and the use of communication devices while driving.
Lashley announced that in line with the United Nations General Decade for Action 2011-2020, the Government took the decision last July to establish the Barbados Road Safety Council to be chaired at the highest level by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to develop and implement road safety programmes and advise the government on road safety issues.†(NC)