President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) Sharmane Roland-Bowen has renewed her call for the age limit for the purchase of alcohol to be raised.
The road safety advocate this time is calling on Government to raise the age limit to 18, saying 16 was much too young.
She first made the call three years ago to the then Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration, but at the time suggested it be moved to 21.
However, addressing a media conference on Monday to launch the BRSA’s annual campaign against drunk driving, Roland-Bowen said as Government makes changes to the process of obtaining a liquor licence under the Liquor Licence Act, it should also consider increasing the age limit.
“The Barbados Road Safety Association is making an appeal to Government to rethink and seriously consider the minimum age allowed for persons at the young and tender age of 16 to purchase alcohol in this country,” said Roland-Bowen.
“The BRSA is making a recommendation to this new administration that one of those changes be raising the minimum age to purchase alcohol to 18 years old,” she said, adding that if Government cared about the young people it would “do everything within its power to save and reduce potential harm to those vulnerable persons in our society”.
She also called on Government to move with haste to implement the promised breathalyzer testing.
“What is currently preventing the training of our police officers in the utilization and administration of the breathalyzer devices along with the needed refresher training in drink drive laws?” asked Roland-Bowen.
Adding that training for the use of the devices could be carried out over a two-day period, Roland-Bowen said: “Why up to this time is there no form of educational campaigns conducted by the Ministry of Transport and Works to inform the public of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and how the breathalyzer testing will be conducted in an effort to deter and to increase compliance with this new regulation?”
Stating that she was concerned about the delay, Roland-Bowen said she hoped it was not a case where Government was changing its mind on introducing the measure.
In November last year, 12-months after the Road Traffic Act was amended to accommodate the breathalyzer testing, then acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport Mark Cummins reported that stakeholders were meeting and getting ready to implement the measure.
At the time, Cummins said once the number of breathalyzer testing devices needed were confirmed they would be ordered and training would be carried out.
However, Government is yet to say if the training was done or when that section of the law would be enforced.
The island recorded 27 road fatalities from 25 accidents last year. However, it is not known how many, or if any, of those accidents were as a result of individuals driving under the influence.
“This is a critical time, the devices are here, the law is here and the police officers are here, but still no enforcement of this law through the testing of impaired drivers especially at such critical time of the year – the Crop Over season,” said Roland-Bowen
She said while she welcomed the paved roadways and patching of several potholes across the island, “things need to start happening that will make our roads safer”.
In relation to the association’s 2019 drunk driving campaign, which is being held in association with Banks Holdings Limited (BHL) under the theme Designate One, Roland-Bowen said the initiative was intended to encourage individuals to appoint someone to drive them prior to going out to parties this Crop Over season.
She explained that a designated driver should be someone who would not consume any alcohol prior to, during or after a party.
Residents will have an opportunity to win several prizes this year during the campaign, which runs until the end of the Crop Over season in August.