President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA), Charmaine Roland-Bowen today made a strong case for tougher penalties for motorists who were responsible for road fatalities, charging that too many offenders were being handed a mere “slap on the wrist.”
“We need to revisit our penalties and our sentencing laws, where we are giving people fines, maybe $3000 fines or even less. No amount of money can compensate for a life that has been lost,” stressed the road safety advocate.
Speaking at the unveiling of a road safety billboard at the Darcy Scott Roundabout to commemorate World Remembrance Day for Road Traffic Victims, Roland-Bowen contended that authorities should impose stiffer fines or imprisonment to send a clear message.
“We have to make penalties a deterrent, set them high so they will deter persons in some cases . . . [or], start sending persons to prison because a fine and especially a small fine cannot replace the value on life,” she said.
The BRSA president revealed that Barbados had recorded eight road fatalities so far this year in comparison to 21 recorded in 2015. However, she held this was too it was eight too many.
Noting that Barbados has failed to show any headway to develop proposed breathalyser testing legislation, Roland-Bowen argued that the it was necessary since the the cause of most road accidents remain unknown.
“These cases that have been going before the court where people have been killed on our roads, there is no way that we can test and see if alcohol was a contributing factor, and this is a very serious matter because if you have people drinking . . . and driving and getting involved in collisions and people dying and still you can’t test them [motorists] to see. . . this is wrong, this is totally wrong,” said Roland-Bowen.
She added, “This is lives that we are dealing with and we need to take it more seriously. I don’t know why that breathalyser is taking so long”.
The association began the day’s events with a church service at the Church of Nazarene in Collymore Rock, which was also attended by the families of accident victims.
Some relatives charged that the judicial system had failed them.
Judith Noel, who lost her son Euwin Noel on March 13th this year shared that she was disappointed that the case was still pending.
“It’s taking too long, eight months is too long. I couldn’t tell the undertaker to wait eight months to pay for his burial … it’s definitely too long”.