Too Little, Too Late – And Only Because Of The Recent Mass Road Deaths
Over a year ago, on Tuesday, July 25, 2006, the Government of Barbados announced “proposed” changes to the highway laws that would have banned the use of cell phones while driving, introduced controls and licensing for the transport of hazardous materials and made other long overdue improvements in the current Road Traffic Act. Even the government’s lapdog newspaper declared “After more than ten years of countless promises, ministers and proposed changes, major amendments to the Road Traffic Act are to be “introduced” in Parliament tomorrow…” (Nation News July 25, 2006 story link here)
That was last year, July 25, 2006.
Glaringly absent was any sort of modern anti-drunk driving law such as breathalyser tests for suspect drivers or drivers who are involved in collisions.
On the morning of July 25th, 2006 Barbados Free Press called the government’s proposed legislation “a good start” but was critical of the government’s lack of responsibility and vision in the area of drinking and driving laws and prevention initiatives. In our article Barbados Government To Ban Cell Phones While Driving we said…
Drinking and Driving Still Not Effectively Addressed
All of this is a good start, but unfortunately doesn’t address the problem of drinking and driving – which is a concern on Barbados.
Unless there is something about the new legislation that the newspapers haven’t covered, Barbados still lacks an effective drinking and driving law.
If we are really concerned about public safety, we must have effective drinking-driving laws in place and equip the police with modern breathalizers and train enough officers as technicians to ensure 24/7 coverage.
So while we are pleased with the Government’s initiative as far as it goes, we can only give it a “B-Minus” or even “C-Plus” grade in terms of overall road safety performance.
How long would it take to get an effective drunk driving law and testing equipment & personnel in place? Six months if we started today?
How about it MPs? Can you make it happen in six months?
That was in July of 2006 and since then… nothing. Not a word from our playboy Minister of Transport Gline Clark or our yachting virtuoso Attorney General Dale Marshall. And from Prime Minister “Scotch & Soda” Owen Arthur, only the occasional hiccup as his contribution to the discussion.
So What’s The Rush, Minister Clarke? Feeling The Election Heat After The Mass Road Deaths?
There must be an election coming up. Along with thirteen years of injuries and road slaughter by drunks behind the wheel, we’ve had the recent mass road deaths – one incident involving a driver with a history of drug abuse – and the government still hasn’t acted to provide the laws we need to stop this epidemic.
Only now after all these years and all these preventable deaths and injuries does Minister Clarke and his government “act” (said tongue-in-cheek)…
If you call yet another media interview “action”…
“Minister of Public Works and Transport Gline Clarke told the SUNDAY SUN recently that there was a committee in place to examine the introduction of the breathalyser. “We are pursuing it at this time. I am convinced that we have to do this now because a lot of complaints have been coming to the Ministry recently about this issue…”
Playboy Minister of Transport Gline Clarke making excuses for 13 years of road slaughter in The Nation News (link here)
“Committee” – Who Does Gline Clarke Think He Is Fooling?
Who is on “the committee” Gline? Name them. When was it established? The Sunday afternoon of the 6 deaths, or on Emancipation Day after 4 more deaths?
Read the Nation News article yourself, folks. Clarke makes it seem like the issue of breathaliser legislation and testing technology is some newly discovered science that needs another committee and another 13 deadly years to implement.
Guess what? Breathaliser technology and the supporting legal jurisprudence are over 50 years old.
Civilized jurisdictions all over the world have amassed tens thousands of legal cases, trials, reports, and committees to develop modern laws, training and operational standards for the police and the courts. The breathaliser technology itself is now computerised, mass produced, more accurate and cheaper than it has ever been. Roadside screening units for uniform patrol officers can be had for a few hundred dollars. The laws in British common law countries are decades old… been through the Supreme Courts and back again.
What’s your problem, Minister Clarke?
What have you been doing for the past year? What has your government been doing for the past 13 years of slaughter?
Your so-called “committee” and press conference is too little. Too late.
And worst of all – you only mentioned the word “breathaliser” because it is politically expedient to do so because of the upcoming election, the recent road slaughter and your government’s pathetic performance.
If you need some legally-proven legislation, I suggest you try Britain or Canada or the United States or Australia for a template. It has all been done. The technology, laws, training and operational experience are yours for a few phone calls.
Just stop pretending that you and your government really care and are actually capable of implementing breathalisers within our lifetime.