A Government senator is calling for breathalysers to be installed in all vehicles and even in the workplace and schools.
Senator Reverend Dr David Durant made the recommendations today at a remembrance meeting held for Sarah Worrell –– the first person in Barbados to die on the island’s roads as a result of drunk driving in 1909 –– held by the National Committee For The Prevention of Alcoholism And Drug Dependency at the Barbados Worker’s Union Solidarity House headquarters.
“We are having all kinds of gadgets already coming installed in our vehicles – for pleasure, for relaxation, for security and to assist in our defensive driving techniques. Why can’t we have something as important and lifesaving as a breathalyser installed by the manufacturer?” Durant questioned.
“I think the time has come for us to start thinking outside the box and do something that will have that lasting impact on saving lives around the world,” he added, noting that breathalyser tests could then be administered not only by police but also by responsible drivers who want to be proactive.
Noting that the general abuse of alcohol is “an epidemic of enormous proportions” which can no longer be ignored, Durant added:
“The abuse of alcohol can lead to low productivity, absenteeism and accidents at offices, businesses and workplaces. So I will even suggest that places of employment have breathalysers on the job to help avoid alcohol-related crimes, workplace accidents and deviant behaviours. I will also recommend every secondary school to be equipped with breathalysers to test for alcohol consumption on our premises that hinders classroom performance and dictates deviant behaviour to other students and teachers.
“This is not something I would have suggested ten years ago, but we must be aware and conscious times have changed . . . . Some people only respond to the reality of consequences. You talk and you talk, and I think the time has come for talk to stop and for some action to be on the cards.”
Pointing out that Government was now closer than ever to passing legislation for breathalyser testing –– hopefully in time for the Crop Over season –– he affirmed his support for the bill.
“I am very happy that the time has come where the protection of our citizens’ lives on the road is worth more than just leaving the gate wide open for all and sundry to go and consume their alcoholic beverages with friends then get into the driver seat and swerve from left to right at dangerous speeds until they get home, all the while endangering the lives of innocent people on our roads. I am glad the time has come to put that to an end and with the breathalyser testing I think people will become a bit more responsible and it will be a deterrent.
“It is my hope that not another soul should die in this island from drunk driving; not in this 21st century of heightened technology and especially since a recent statistic has shown that in one out of every three fatalities in Barbados alcohol was involved. That is too uncomfortable a thought.
“The Government is aware that unless this legislation is passed the police are helpless in testing anyone for intoxication while driving. So a lot of people are getting off the hook, a lot of people are really being spared facing penalties for this kind of irresponsible conduct and behaviour on our roads,” he added, stressing that the driver under the influence of alcohol was not only a danger to himself, but to innocent people on the road.