Insurance companies here are expressing concern over the increasing number of road fatalities, which they blame on “lawlessness”, “indiscipline” and intoxication.
Barbados has recorded 24 road deaths so far this year, more than double the ten recorded for all of last year.
The most recent fatality occurred on Saturday, November 4, when 78-year-old Bentley Belgrave, a Barbadian who lived in the United States, but was here on holiday, died in a two-vehicle accident at the junction of Pleasant Hall and the Charles Duncan O’Neal Highway in St Peter.
General Manager of Co-operators General Insurance Limited Anton Lovell told Barbados TODAY that his agency had witnessed a 15 per cent spike in the number of major and minor vehicular accidents claims this year when compared to the same period last year.
“We’re very concerned about the number of road deaths. We are doing everything possible within the industry, with the police and the road safety association to try and curb the lawlessness on the road,” Lovell said.
Similar concerns were raised by Claims Manager at Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance (CGI) Paul Reid, who stressed that the company was really worried about the level of recklessness on the island’s roads.
Reid said CGI had its “fair share of road fatalities, and our clients being involved in those fatalities for the year”, adding that the number claims for road deaths had been steadily increasing each year.
In response the company has been urging motorists to be careful on highways, Reid explained.
“We try to put in the forefront of people’s minds that ‘this could be you, this could be your family’. We try our part to make people understand that a vehicle could be a weapon; put it in the wrong hands it can easily injure somebody or take someone’s life,” he said.
While not making reference to any particular accident or pointing fingers at anyone in particular, President of the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB) Michael Holder was not shy to suggest that alcohol and drugs played a major part in the increasing number of fatal accidents.
Holder told Barbados TODAY he was fully behind plans announced by Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley to include breathalyzer testing in the revised Barbados Road Traffic Act, which the minister promised would go before Parliament later this month.
“The amount of road accidents that we are having is a concern because it speaks to a level of indiscipline and inattentiveness on the road.
“We strongly believe that breathalyzer testing would go a long way to making persons responsible on the road and ultimately we would have less drivers on the road who are intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” the GAIB boss said.