A top cop is strongly advising passengers to police themselves when riding on privately owned Public Service Vehicles (PSVs).
At the same time, the President of the Barbados Road Safety Association, Charmaine Roland-Bowen, is calling on authorities to permanently put reckless drivers off the road and out of the system.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Eucklyn Thompson and Roland-Bowen were both speaking to the media about bad driving on the roads by PSVs, following the launch this morning of the Sagicor Drivepal system which monitors driving habits.
While there has been a noticeable increase in the number of PSV accidents, as recent as Tuesday when a ZR making its way into the Nursery Drive van stand, turned over, leaving several passengers injured and 14-year-old Springer Memorial student Zakiyah Defreitas hospitalized in serious condition.
As he condemned the activity, Thompson remarked that Barbados was exhibiting a culture of indiscipline where even mature people who should know better, were travelling on PSVs where operators were driving dangerously and breaking traffic laws.
He said just few months ago, he had visited the River Road van stand where he observed the behaviour of commuters and PSV operators.
He said police officers were traditionally stationed in that area but the force could possibly look at the increasing the level of traffic management at that location. However, he stressed that it was necessary for commuters to start learning to police themselves.
“If people learn to police themselves, that would lead to good order and discipline,” the senior cop said. “I am not saying there would not be a need for us to be present, but what we will be observing is people being orderly and vehicles being driven prudently to and fro in the van stand instead of this rush left right and centre to get commuters.”
Meanwhile, noting that the situation on the island’s roads was getting worse, Roland-Bowen who has been a consistent advocate for safe driving over the years, said getting PSV operators with poor driving records off the road, should be treated as a matter of urgency.
“When I say get them out, I don’t mean get them out of the system or get them out of the minibus and let them go to the Transport Board, because that is what they have been doing. I mean get off the road and find something else to do. We need to send a strong message and stand by what we say,” she said.
Speaking passionately, the Barbados Road Safety Association president continued: “That young lady was injured. We don’t want to wait until it is a fatality for them [authorities] to do something. They know what they have to do.
“We have to stop letting these drivers of these public service vehicles control the roads and authorities. We have to take a stand and let them know the consequences of their actions and create penalties,” she added.
Roland-Bowen said her association had tried relentlessly, but without success, to get authorities to set better standards for persons who drive PSVs. She suggested that training was one way of driving home to reckless drivers the point that they are carrying human cargo.
On that note, she called for a National Vocational Qualification for carrying passengers to be introduced to upgrade and enhance driving capabilities. “It is not just passing a driving test and getting a license. You have people’s lives to look after and should have a structured form of advanced training. When they are given their license, they should be continuously monitored,” she said. [email protected]