It’s the last day of just the third month of 2017, and already we have recorded 14 road deaths.
The latest victim was 49-year-old Station Sergeant Clifford Sherlock Bridgeman who died in a five-vehicle smash up on Carrington Road, at the intersection with Edgecumbe Hill, St Philip, on Sunday evening.
Overcome with a combination of grief and anger, the deceased policeman’s brother Anderson Holder called for the person who caused his death to face a severe penalty.
“I don’t believe my brother should have died so . . . [on] his job and I feel . . . that the man that do it should pay more than a double penalty for it,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Many readers expressed their concern about the high number of road fatalities and offered some solutions as well.
“We have a bunch of traffic wardens walking around Bridgetown giving people senseless tickets when we could do with some much needed extra traffic cops to help police our roads. Majority of road users practise bad habits and we tolerate it. There is nothing to deter them….A police vehicle is hardly around; can’t expect them to be everywhere. Some of the responsibility of policing our roads must be given to the public. We all have a civic duty to protect each other!” one stated.
“Every day, Sergeant [Seibert] Johnson is on the radio pleading with road users to be cautious. His sentiments are echoed by other road safety advocates like Mrs [Sharmane Roland] Bowen and Mr [Junior] Jordan. Despite these efforts, the folly persists on our roads. These road hogs need to be taught a serious lesson. I hope none of my children or immediate family falls prey to the folly of these nuisances,” another said.
Two days after Bridgeman’s death, President of the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB) Davis Browne put the country on notice that everyone would have to help foot the bill for the millions of dollars in death claims the insurance industry would have to pay out as a result of fatal accidents.
“Certainly, increased claims costs will have a trickle-down effect on policyholders in general, and may not just be those persons who would have had accidents [who] will suffer the increase,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that the frequency and severity of the injuries would have some impact on the industry.
But his comments triggered outrage. Many people voiced their opposition to such an approach on call-in programmes and on online platforms – making this the top trending story this week.
“What should be done about the increase in accidents, driving offences, etc. is that offences should be linked to the perpetrators and then they be given an increase in their insurance. In other words, targeting. A person who gets into an accident caused by himself callously and writes off his vehicle should not get a cent payout. All persons involved in accidents, whether minor or serious, should also have their insurance increased if it is proven [their] fault. Targeting is what will deter accidents as that individual will not want to have an increase in his/her premium and they will also be cautious of who drives their vehicle. Look at your insurance premium records and target the young drivers too and do something there. You just out to collect money without doing any research…” one person said.
“Barbados, wake up, this is [outright] robbery. Don’t take this sitting down. Insurance companies are already making millions of dollars, but just because it’s time to pay out lil money all of a sudden they have to raise our rates. I urge all Bajans when they pay their car insurance and realize that their premium [has risen], spread the word so that other people can look elsewhere for coverage for their vehicle and if all insurance [companies] raise their rates, let’s block Bridgetown. It’s time we start making a stand for [ourselves] because the people that we elected to represent us sit on their throne and do nothing for us,” another said.
Another, arguing that insurances companies were only looking to make a large profit and were exploiting people in the process, said: “When Bajans start to see that your rates are the highest in this region then you’ll start to fight back.…Let your money talk or stop buying new cars for a while and let car dealerships feel it and you’ll see how fast that policy changes.” commenters were of the opinion that increasing insurance rates would not make safer drivers.
“Accidents will happen regardless. All that will happen is more and more people will drive without insurance. Why do we have to pay for another man’s accident?” one person questioned.
Another suggested that an alternative method be employed to curb reckless driving.
“Why not, instead of increasing the rates, make it mandatory that those involved in accidents take a safe driving class or something?…Actually fix the problem, which is the person…not increase rates….People can barely maintain as is….Let’s not force people into illegal practices (not having insurance and such) in order to stay above water.”