The Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) has renewed its calls for the immediate implementation of breathalyzer testing, saying the Crop Over season is as good a time as any to introduce the measure.
BRSA President Sharmane Roland-Bowen said Crop Over was normally associated with heavy drinking, and the Mia Mottley administration should waste no time in enforcing the relevant section of the amended Road Traffic Act which gives police officers the authority to request a breath sample from drivers suspected to be under the influence.
“We see this as a priority. It is about time we bring in the breathalyzer and we need to arm the officers with the breathalyzer to deter some of these people,” Roland-Bowen told Barbados TODAY days after rum producers Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd made a similar plea in support of breathalyzer testing.
Then Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley, who piloted the amended legislation last year, had said all that was needed to begin enforcement of the Act was for police officers to undergo training in the use of the equipment that was to be imported.
Barbados TODAY was unable to ascertain whether or not the equipment was ever imported. However, Roland-Bowen contended that the cost of the machines was negligible “when you compare the cost to lives and how many [lives] you can save”.
The road safety advocate raised concern about the number of people who drive under the influence of alcohol, and while she was careful not to place the blame for all the road accidents on drink driving, she insisted that drinking was a factor, and beathalyzer testing would help reduce road fatalities.
There were 19 road fatalities up to June 17 this year, nine short of the 28 recorded for all of last year.
“We are always concerned about roads deaths, whether it is 19 or one, because one life lost in a road accident is one life that could have been saved. This administration says they love the people and that they are caring for the people, and so they must be able to save us from ourselves from hurting each other,” she said.
In the meantime, Roland-Bowen said she was awaiting word from the Ministry of Transport about a meeting with the new minister to discuss some concerns about the amended Act.
“There are some things that need tweaking but . . . that tweaking doesn’t mean it should be lying there on a desk,” she said.