It may have been many years in the making but the much-touted breathalyzer testing could begin in Barbados in a matter of weeks.
Making the announcement on Thursday during the launch of the Barbados Road Safety Association’s (BRSA) Road Safety Week, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport Mark Cummins said ministry officials have been meeting with the Royal Barbados Police Force and other stakeholders about implementing the measure.
Referencing the 27 roads deaths from 25 accidents so far this year in Barbados, Cummins said it was the intention of the ministry to do all it could to bring about a reduction.
“It is the intention of my ministry to ensure that the number of fatalities on our roads is significantly reduced,” said Cummins.
To this end, he said his ministry would be enforcing the breathalyzer testing, which was introduced last November under the amended Road Traffic Act.
The PS explained that following meetings, which have been ongoing since June, a sample breathalyzer device was identified and turned over to the RBPF for consideration.
“It is one where the calibration is set by the company, which makes it more difficult for us to lose a case in the event that there is a legal challenge,” he said.
“I therefore expect to get a response from the police within the next week and thereafter, the details regarding the implementation of breathalyzer testing [will be announced],” Cummins said adding that the devices will be sourced once the numbers are confirmed.
According to Cummins, the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB) has indicated a willingness to sponsor some of the devices.
“But we have to ensure that the device that is purchased is the one that the police has recommended,” he added in reference to concerns that the process was taking too long.
President of the BRSA Sharmane Roland-Bowen welcomed the news but expressed frustration that the process to implementation has taken so long.
“These breathalyzers were around for decades. What is it, why is it so hard [to get the breathalyzer testing implemented]? We are just looking for excuses and holding it back and all the while there are accidents on our roads. We fought too long to get breathalyzer testing out there but now we are dragging our feet on it. We got to get it out,” she insisted.