Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley is convinced that the number of heavily tinted vehicles on the island’s roads contribute to an increase in violent crime by protecting the identity of criminals.
Therefore, Lashley suggested, there should be a ban on tints, with only those in certain professions, which he did not identify, being allowed to drive around in vehicles with tinted windows.
“I know that people will say, ‘no Mr Lashley, we are not going back there because I want privacy’ . . . [but] I believe we have to look at the law regarding tinted vehicles and this is my personal opinion, not the ministry’s. But I believe that given the fact that so many criminal offences [are committed] by persons who drive into districts with heavily tinted vehicles and you can’t see not even the person’s eye or finger, that I think is [contributing] to the rise in crime and the types of crime that we have. We have to look at whether we remove tint altogether or whether tint should only be allowed to certain persons holding particular jobs in Barbados,” he told a safe driving campaign launched by Co-operators General Insurance.
The minister explained that the law allows for vehicles to be tinted, but for some visibility from a certain distance.
However, Lashley argued that too many people were driving around in vehicles that were tinted to the point where nothing was visible inside once the windows are up.
“My personal opinion is let us get rid of them [tints]. That is my opinion, because it would assist in law enforcement, it would assist in [eliminating] some of these criminal activities that are going on,” he insisted.
Lashley recently introduced the Road Traffic Amendment Bill – approved by Parliament – which makes provision for strict penalties for a number of traffic violations.
However, he suggested that even more amendments were needed to the traffic laws to cover “tinting of vehicles, parking metres and the institution of standards with respect to emission and noise”.
The Minister of Transport also suggested that the Chief Technical Officer and the Deputy Chief Technical Officer be given more power “through order of the magistrates’ courts” to randomly inspect vehicles at mechanic shops in order to deter those whom he said were being crafty in amending engine and chassis numbers of stolen vehicles.
Lashley also disclosed that he was looking at the possibility of having a designated lot where vehicles that have been impounded could be kept.
“The present Road Traffic Act has in it that you can impound vehicles. The problem is that over time we haven’t been able to find . . . a place that is secure enough to impound vehicles, because, of course, damage to vehicles will come into play,” the minister said.
“So we are actively looking at a state property to place vehicles that police have impounded. The traffic arms of the police are stretched so we have to look now to increase the powers of traffic inspectors so that they can have a new regime and new powers to deal with infractions.”
Lashley added that in addition to greater powers for traffic inspectors, they would also have to work outside the normal working hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in order to apprehend offenders who violate traffic laws after hours, including those who drive without insurance, driver’s licences or licence plates.
“We have now to look and see how many infractions there are after working hours and we will be able now to deploy these traffic inspectors once we amend the Act. In fact, we are looking at the Transport Authority Act to give powers to the transport inspectors to bring about a new regime to the enforcement of traffic laws in Barbados,” Lashley said.
He also pointed out that his ministry was looking at the possibility of setting up electronic surveillance at various points, including intersections and bus terminals, in an effort to catch drivers guilty of road traffic infringements.
“There might come a time when the ministry, even after my time [as minister], will have to look at placing cameras on certain intersections or even at the new River Terminal we are building, that we make sure we have enough cameras in there along with a command centre that we can properly [monitor and catch offenders],” he said.