While motor racing enthusiasts are eagerly looking forward to this weekend’s climax of Sol Rally Barbados, the Royal Barbados Police Force is busy preparing to deal with the headache of drivers playing out their adrenaline rush on the roads after attending the race meet.
Acting Superintendent Ronald Stanford told Barbados TODAY that officers would be on high alert at various points on the route from the Bushy Park race track in St Philip, in an effort to keep drivers in check.
The June 2-4 event will be the first major race meet at Bushy Park since 49-year-old Station Sergeant Clifford Sherlock Bridgeman was killed in a five-vehicle smash-up on Carrington Road, at its junction with Edgecumbe Hill, St Philip, after a race event at the motor racing circuit on March 26.
While he acknowledged that there were no statistics to prove any correlation between racing events and speeding on the roads, Superintendent Stanford said the symbiotic occurrences were too frequent to be merely coincidental.
“I can’t say that it has been a finding because it really hasn’t been researched, but there has been some hint of it that when persons go to these racing meets or sporting meets involving motor vehicles, they tend to be aggressive when they return to the road,” the senior officer said.
“In most cases, we have deployed police officers on the roads leading from these events in an effort to calm that sort of driving,” he added, while expressing the hope that the police approach along with road safety campaigns would make a difference.
Stanford’s comments mirrored those expressed by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite two days after Bridgeman’s death.
The Government’s top legal advisor, commenting on the spate of road fatalities, said at the time: “It is well known that when we have car racing that the guys leave Bushy Park like if they believe that they are still at Bushy Park. These are not necessarily the guys that are actually on the track. So, I believe that it is an area that all of the motoring associations would have to do their best to ensure that they not only encourage their members but the spectators to leave the fast driving for Bushy Park.”
However, President of the Barbados Motoring Federation Andrew Mallalieu, in response, had told Barbados TODAY that any attempt to link motorsport events to reckless driving was without merit.
“We in the federation are concerned about what appears to be the increasing number of road fatalities . . . . However, anyone who takes part in events by the federation has to have a special licence, and any infraction on the road can bring that licence into question.
“We would like to urge drivers on the public road to save their high speed driving for the track. Our experience has been that having more motorsport creates more responsible drivers because it actually helps to give those drivers an outlet. I don’t think there are more people riding horses because there is horse racing at the Garrison,” Mallalieu said.