The island’s oldest trade union does not want a repeat of the driving practices that led to almost 30 deaths on the island’s roads last year.
The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) said vehicular accidents, particularly fatal ones, take a toll on the victims’ families, as well as the state, and drivers should strive to be more careful this year.
The Barbados Fire Service (BFS) reported a 22.4 per cent increase in road accidents as of December 27, 2017, when compared with the same period in 2016, with 93 motor vehicle accidents, compared to 76 the previous year.
There were 25 fatal accidents last year resulting in 28 road deaths, nearly three times the ten fatalities for all of 2016.
“Traffic accidents and deaths are extremely costly, not only in regard to the emotional shock and financial burdens imposed on the family and friends of those who are injured or lose their lives, but also to the national economy when one takes into consideration the pressures placed on the police, the ambulance service, the hospital, as well as the costs of medical services, insurance and the loss of earnings to the individuals, their families and their workplaces,” the BWU said in a press release.
The union, which represents workers in both private and public sector entities, said it was also worried about some of the dangerous practices which certain road users engage in, such as speeding on highways and in residential areas, as well as the dangerous stunts performed by cyclists on the roadways.
“They are not only breaking the law and endangering their own lives, but also those of other road users, and making themselves a public nuisance in the process,” the union stressed, while calling for a more sensitive approach by all road users.
The union’s stand received support from the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA), which has campaigned incessantly for tough action against those found culpable in fatal road accidents.
BRSA President Sharmane Roland-Bowen told Barbados TODAY the country was finally on the right path with some of the recent amendments to the Road Traffic Act, but a comprehensive driver education programme was needed.
“Everyone needs to be aware of their responsibilities and comply with the laws, because it is for their own safety. Every country that has managed to reduce the number of road deaths has introduced education programmes,” Roland-Bowen said.
“An educational component will help drivers develop a greater awareness of the dangers associated with breaking the laws. The judicial system, insurance companies and the Licensing Authority all must take the issue of road safety more seriously, and the new traffic laws must be enforced once they come on stream,” she added.