Yesterday’s early morning accident that led to the deaths of four young people was a calamity that should serve as a wake-up call to authorities that urgent action is needed to help curb road accidents, says road safety advocate Sharmane Roland-Bowen.
Their deaths brought to five, the number of road fatalities since the start of the year.
“We take this time to further our appeal for road safety to be taken more seriously in this country.
“We are dealing with human lives here and this callousness being displayed by the authorities has gone on for too long . . . . The lives that were sacrificed on our road yesterday and in recent years must serve as a wake-up call to action for all those who are involved in the everyday responsibilities of dealing with all categories of persons traversing our road network,” the president of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) said today.
“Now is the time to act by prioritizing the safety of our people and ending the procrastination towards safety on our roads that is now accruing in our country,” Roland-Bowen added, stressing a need for improved lighting along the section of the roadway where the accident occurred.
Three Vincentian females – 17-year-old Danee Deverey Horne, 18-year-old Carianne Lee-New Padmore and 19-year-old Aziza Awanna Dennie – and 23-year-old Barbadian Andre Jabarry Gittens of River Land, St Philip lost their lives in the accident about 3 a.m. yesterday along the Graeme Hall section of the ABC Highway.
Two Vincentian males, 18-year-old Darren Renaldo Daniel and 21-year-old Kemelius Boyea narrowly escaped death and were taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance for treatment, along with taxi driver, 52-year-old Curtis Rock of Belleplaine, St Andrew, the driver of the second vehicle involved in the accident.
The dead girls were part of a seven-member group who were here since last December for an internship programme at the Crane Resort, St Philip and were due to depart the island yesterday morning.
The BRSA this morning launched a War on Drink Driving campaign in an attack on the practice here.
Roland-Bowen said while she did not have statistics linking road accidents here to drink driving, she was convinced alcohol was a factor in many instances.
She said the campaign would consist mainly of “grassroots lobbying of our representatives”, with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Minister of Transport & Works Michael Lashley, Minister of Health John Boyce and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite as the first targets to whom letters would be sent this week.
“We are no longer encouraging them to act, but we are demanding that they act and put the lives of the people of this country as number one priority and do what any responsible and caring government official would do if they truly have the safety and wellbeing of its citizens at heart,” the BRSA head said.
In addition, she said, the association would intensify its lobbying for legislative changes to include raising of the minimum age for the purchase of alcoholic to 18; enforcement of such law through the requirement of identification for people purchasing alcohol and penalties for adults who purchase alcohol for, or sell alcohol to, people under 18.
The association is also demanding “fast forwarding of the long awaiting breatherlyzer and the accompanying legislation” to deter drink driving; severe penalties for people who violate such laws, especially recidivists; warning labels stating the effects and dangers of excessive alcohol use; a number of penalties for minors who break the law, including a fine and admission to a rehabilitation programme and compulsory alcohol testing of persons involved in serious and fatal road accidents.