Concerned that on average Barbados records in excess of 20 vehicular accidents per day, one local insurance company has launched a major information campaign it hopes will help to put a dent in that trend.
Last year just over 8, 000 road accidents and 28 road fatalities were reported to the Royal Barbados Police Force. The Barbados Fire Service also said it responded to 93 motor vehicular accidents in 2017.
However, General Manager of Co-operators General Insurance Anton Lovell warned during the official launch of the company’s Driver’s Pledge campaign on Friday, that not all road accidents were reported. Therefore, he suggested that the total number of road accidents for last year could be closer to 10,000.
“We cannot repeat last year’s statistics of 28 road fatalities,” Lovell said, adding that “all Barbadians need to take the matter of road safety more seriously”.
The new campaign warns drivers not to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; to do everything possible to avoid a vehicular accident; not to drive without insurance coverage or on an expired driver’s licence and to exhibit due care and consideration for other road users.
The pledge, which has been mounted on a handy display card, is to be issued to drivers for them to keep in their vehicles “as permanent fixtures”.
Lovell said they could be collected from his company’s Upper Collymore Rock, St Michael office, as well as in supermarkets and during special promotional events.
“We encourage them [drivers] to recite the pledge every morning before proceeding on their various journeys . . . . We are hoping that this exercise will resonate with all drivers,” he said.
“From our vantage point, too many persons are losing their lives in traffic accidents. In addition, far too many persons are suffering severe injuries as a result of these motor accidents, preventing them from working and earning a living . . . [and] being productive citizens, which places a real burden on families and the National Insurance Scheme.”
Lovell also warned that the increased accidents were placing pressure on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the ambulance service and the fire department.
Minister of Transport Michael Lashley lauded the Driver’s Pledge initiative, saying, “it fits in well” with the road safety campaign of his ministry.
While urging other insurance companies to embark on similar projects to help encourage safe driving, Lashley said he was confident that Barbados could achieve the goal of having zero fatal accidents.
Following the recent passage of the Road Traffic Amendment Act in Parliament, which allows for breathalyzer tests and random testing of public service vehicle operators for drug and alcohol consumption, Lashley said Government was currently looking to find the best breathalyzer device for use in Barbados, adding that police officers would soon start their training.
He further disclosed that his ministry was embarking on a major public relation programme to increase public awareness about the provisions of the Act.
At the same time, the Minister of Transport is calling on Barbadians to report drivers who are guilty of breaking the law.
“We want all road users to join with us and come to us and basically do not be frightened to report or call in to us or even call in to the Royal Barbados Police Force and report any infractions that you see in relation to the breaking of the Road Traffic Act,” he said.