Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley is suggesting that the newly-increased penalties for drink driving will not by themselves be enough to prevent the unwanted practice.
However, he expects that along with greater enforcement of the recently passed Road Traffic Amendment Act 2017, fewer people will drive while under the influence of alcohol.
Under the Act, road offenders, including drink drivers, face fines of $5,000 or two years imprisonment or both on the first conviction and $10,000 in fines on the second conviction.
Lashley said there was not enough data to conclude that drink drivers were responsible for the near trebling of road fatalities so far this year – which total 27, as compared to ten for all of last year.
However, he told Wednesday’s launch of the Massy United Insurance Driving Skills Academy at Bushy Park racing circuit in St Philip that there was a high degree of concern about drink driving, therefore the increased fines were imposed to act as a deterrent.
“We decided, ‘let us increase the penalties for drunk driving’ and that is a major concern in Barbados. In spite of the fact that in relation to the evidence . . . the concrete or documentary evidence . . . there is a little challenge, but when you speak to the stakeholders, we recognize that there is a concern in relation to drunk driving in Barbados,” he said.
“And then what we would have to do to enforce these provisions, is that we would have to get all of our stakeholders on board . . . recognizing that people are being reckless on the road, report them, so that the police can get into action, so that we would have effect of the provisions that [are] within the law.”
Under the new traffic law, drivers have up to 24 hours to produce their driver’s licence after an accident.
Lashley said this was to limit the amount of time they would have had to manipulate the system and mislead
“So we shortened the time, because we recognize that our mandate is road safety and we want to protect other road users out there,” he said.
Lashley also said he had accepted a proposal to have magistrates use their discretion to order anyone convicted of road traffic violations to attend a driving skills academy.
He said this would give offenders an opportunity to “rehabilitate themselves in terms of driving skills on the road”.