With motor claim payouts passing the $1 billion mark, the majority of them for accidents in which drivers were distracted, the body representing insurance companies in Barbados is calling for legislation to be urgently implemented to ban the use of mobile phones while driving.
Figures provided exclusively to Barbados TODAY following a press conference by the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB) this afternoon, revealed that an average $300 million per annum has been paid out over the past three years.
Of particular worry to officials of GIAB is that 65 per cent of these accident claims represented persons who were distracted while driving.
“Based on the information we’ve reviewed, it would suggest that at the time of the incident the driver was somehow not paying attention to where he or she was going. It could be that they were distracted by something happening within the vehicle, it could be something outside the vehicle, and in a lot of cases, based particularly on the reports of other persons at the scene of the accident, it would appear that the person was on the cell phone at the time of the accident,” GIAB’s president Michael Holder told reporters at the association’s Roebuck Street headquarters.
“So we can easily see that any legislation that can restrict the use of communications devices whilst driving should lead to an improvement in the number of accidents we have been having.”
Holder told reporters that without legislation restricting the use of cell phones while operating a vehicle, tackling the situation would continue to be difficult and lawmen would have a hard time dealing with the menace.
“By having the law addressing it, it gives the police the wherewithal to address it. If there is no legislation, then it makes it difficult for the police to stop someone. It makes it difficult then to address the whole issue of driving on the cell phone,” Holder said.
“Further to the proposed amendments [to the Road Traffic Regulations], we believe that we need to go further and have legislation to address the use of communication devices when driving. That . . . should result in the reduction in motor vehicle accidents.”
The GIAB official noted that the association was also pushing for the implementation of breathalyzer testing as another way of reducing road accidents.
“Any effort to address and improve the worsening motor accident situation is applauded and fully supported. Breathalyzer testing is something that is almost becoming commonplace in nearby Trinidad, for instance. They have it in place [and] it seems to be working in helping to reduce the incidence of road accidents there. We should take it on board for that same benefit,” Holder suggested.
Chairman of the GIAB’s public relations committee Anton Lovell added that the association has been lobbying Government to speed up the amendments to the Road Traffic regulations, which would deal with mobile phone use.
“We had a couple meetings with the minister [and] we mentioned that to him and we are planning to met with him very soon again to renew our efforts,” he announced.
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