Come January next year, motorists driving under the influence of alcohol will be doing so at the risk of being subjected to breathalyzer testing, Minister of Transport and Works Dr William Duguid said.
The announcement, which was made during a service for the United Nations’ Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, comes well over a year after government promised the apparatus would be implemented within “a matter of weeks”.
“My ministry is at an advanced stage with respect to the use of breathalyzer testing of drivers of vehicles. The introduction of such testing will certainly go a long way in ensuring the safety of the travelling public and we anticipate that this will be instituted in January of 2020,” Duguid told reporters at the St Mary’s Anglican Church on Sunday morning.
In addition, he promised Government would be at the forefront of efforts to make roads safer and reduce congestion by instituting world-class measures like road barriers, road fences, barricades, signs, traffic lights and roundabouts.
“Traversing our roads is an essential part of our everyday lives. We all use them in some way by driving, riding, walking or travelling as a passenger and we depend on them for goods and services. Unfortunately, that comes at a price, which includes people being killed and injured. However, over the last few decades, effective and comprehensive road strategies have reduced the number of people being killed or injured on the roads despite increasing traffic levels,” Duguid added.
Barbados has seen a drastic reduction in road fatalities so far this year, having recorded nine in comparison to the 28 and 26 recorded in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
While Barbados Road Safety Association President, Charmaine Roland-Bowen supports the implementation of breathalyzer testing, the association’s attention has seemingly turned to the ongoing debate on marijuana legalization for medicinal, religious and recreational purposes.
To this end, Roland-Bowen urged lawmakers to tread carefully in the interest of road safety consistent with the association’s theme for this year: “Towards Drug Free Roads”.
“We are really looking for the authorities and the people who have this in their hands to take a second look. Really sit down and examine the effects it can have on our roads…Would we prefer money over the safety, health, and wellbeing of our citizens and our people?” she asked while weighing the economic benefits of marijuana legalization with that of citizen safety.
Roland-Bowen further examined legalization of marijuana for religious purposes, a measure which she believes could easily be abused.
“What is to stop people from abusing it when they should not and from abusing it while claiming to be rasta when they are not using it for ritualistic purposes? These are issues with which we must be concerned. So even though you might want to ‘help out’ a religion, we must look at further ramifications. We also see it as a gateway drug to other serious drugs. We are asking them to seriously reconsider what they are doing.”
During Sunday’s service, the Barbados Road Safety Association displayed the names of all persons who died on the country’s roads from the year 2000 as family and friends were given the opportunity to pin yellow ribbons next to the names of their loved ones. (KS)