Barbados continues to score poorly in its efforts to combat drink-driving, even as the Government contemplates amendments to the Road Traffic Act.
This is according to the Global Road Safety Report 2013, in which Barbados was given a zero rating over its failure to enforce drink-driving laws.
The island also scored low – four out of ten – for its enforcement of speed limits.
However, the international report gave the country good marks for ensuring that laws relating to wearing helmets while riding – eight out of ten – and seat belts while driving – seven out of ten – are enforced.
Examining the use of mobile phones on the island’s roads, the report acknowledged that there were no laws in place prohibiting their use.
Similarly, it was noted that no laws were in place prohibiting the use of hands-free mobile phones.
It also indicates that in the area of blood alcohol content (BAC) for the general population, no information could be had.
There was also no data recorded in the area of blood alcohol content (BAC) for young or novice drivers, as was the case with data for blood alcohol content (BAC) for professional and commercial drivers.
Eighty-eight countries have reduced the number of deaths on their roads, but the total number of road traffic deaths remains unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year, the report states.
Only 28 countries, representing 449 million people (seven per cent of the world’s population), have adequate laws that address all five risk factors (speed, drink–driving, helmets, seat belts and child restraints), it adds.
While there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that recent road deaths in Barbados are linked to drink-driving, local law enforcement officials and the Minister of Transport Michael Lashley have expressed strong concern about lawlessness on the streets and people travelling without due care and attention.
Addressing a seminar yesterday sponsored by the National Committee For The Prevention Of Alcoholism And Drug Dependency at the offices of Co-operators General Insurance on Upper Collymore Rock, St Michael, the minister said Government was pressing ahead with the introduction of breathalyser testing on the island’s roads, and its plans to institute a ban of the use of cellular phones while driving.
He promised delegates that the desired amendments would be brought to the House of Assembly before the end of the current financial year.
Lashley also reiterated his concerns over a recent practice by some businessmen of importing sections of cars and welding them together, thereby endangering passengers using the vehicles.
He told students of the Parkinson Secondary School and Ellerslie Secondary School that they had a duty to report drivers who were reckless on the country’s roads while recalling that from his student days at the Graydon Sealy School (formerly the Garrison Secondary School) that drivers of public service vehicles used to engage in such dangerous practices as “rocking the cradle and the milkshake”.