The congestion caused by minor crashes – fender benders which account for about three out of four road traffic accidents here – would become a thing of the past under a new policy, if Minister of Transport Dr William Duguid has his way.
Drawing his experience as a resident of Canada for a number of years before returning to elective politics, Duguid told a national consultation on traffic management yesterday evening of how Canadian authorities handled minor accidents.
He said: “When these minor accidents occur, you do not have to wait for the police to come.
“Once no-one is injured, the drivers would take each other’s information, then go to a recording centre where police are available, so they do not have to come to the accident scene.
“You take pictures, make reports to your insurance company, and then get the cars repaired.”
Duguid noted that all too often fender-benders caused unnecessary traffic congestion, a point with which the Police Public Relations Officer Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss, who was in the audience, agreed.
Inniss revealed the police were thinking along the same lines, since attending to these accidents took up a lot of time which could be used to address more pressing matters.
“We investigate almost 8,000 accidents annually, and 74 percent are just fender benders.
“Recently, we prepared a document, which we are in the process of formalising with the Commissioner of Police that deals directly with that matter,” he said.
Inspector Inniss said it did not mean the police would stop investigating accidents altogether, but the primary responsibility would fall on the drivers’ insurance companies.
He added: “Our duty in an accident is to look for offences, and to assist any injured party.
“We know drivers will be concerned if their vehicles are damaged, but ultimately you really need an insurance company and it is a private matter.
“Now, the police will continue to attend all accidents; certainly if there are serious injuries or fatalities, but with those fender benders we will attend initially, to take the necessary information such as phone numbers and addresses, and to check that driver’s licences and insurance are in order.
“Naturally we will also do what is necessary if we discover one of the drivers has been drinking alcohol, or if an argument ensues between the parties involved, to ensure the situation does not get out of hand.”
Inspector Inniss noted that this new approach would require a great deal of public education both internally and externally before Barbadians accepted it.
Barbados TODAY has reached out to the president of the General Insurance Association of Barbados Goulbourne Alleyne for comment on this suggestion. Up to news time, we were unsuccessful. (DH)