Minister of Transport Gline Clarke Finally “Talking” About Driver Breathaliser Tests – As First Suggested By By Barbados Free Press Over A Year Ago

barbados-breathalyzer.jpg

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.

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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.

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31 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Politics

31 responses to “Minister of Transport Gline Clarke Finally “Talking” About Driver Breathaliser Tests – As First Suggested By By Barbados Free Press Over A Year Ago

  1. Anonymous

    this is just baloney

  2. Wishing in Vain

    Are we suggesting this accident at Joes river took place because of drinking and driving, please do not let us get carried away with emotion and excitement here.
    I am certain if we were to examine the statistics of the road deaths we maybe surprised to learn that the majority of the road deaths take place because of speeding and poor driving habits as opposed to drinking.
    This accident was purely that an accident, nothing less nothing more than a case of the brakes failing, to suggest otherwise is being silly.
    We must bear in mind that we as a tourist destination which has created a feeeling of a lucky go happy free spirited society that is your holiday destination Barbados the worlds leading rum producing country in the entire universe is now going to subject its holiday makers to the same rigid standards as are applied in the country from which they come, to be tested and put away in jail until sober to go home.
    We must not follow the footsteps of the big countries so stupidily that we shoot ourselves in the foot for no reason at all.
    If you can prove to me that 10 % of the road deaths are as a result of drinking then I will support your call, otherwise I will sell the Mount Gay and Cockspur brands of fine rum without fear that it is the cause of fatal accidents

  3. Sunniebgi

    if the Barbados police actually stopped people for the current road law offenses, I would say yes, lets get this going. But they don’t even stop people for lack of seatbelts, which is mandetory for all passengers.. for passengers riding in the back of pickup trucks – which is illegal and thats just 2 of the most common road violations..

    it would be a law in name only and would likely never be inforced.. (how many bajan policeman do you know who would actually walk up to a topless women on the beach and arrest them for indecent exposure.. why don’t we just get rid of this law cause it certainly doesn’t mean anything either).

  4. Wishing in Vain

    If this comes into play can we have a law which states that before a person is required to do the breath test he can require that the charging officer do the test first to check the calibration of the machine !!
    This may be quite revealing as I am sure about 70 % of those same officers administering the test would fail the same test if asked to do it.
    You only need to go to the rum shop in Freshwater Bay any Friday evening and see who you find there and what they are doing there certainly not patrols maybe patrols of the bar but not the road.

  5. John

    Here is what Robert Best has to say about the Joes River tragedy after talking with a US official.

    http://bararchive.bits.baseview.com/archive_detail.php?archiveFile=./pubfiles/bar/archive/2007/August/12/LocalNews/43308.xml&start=0&numPer=20&keyword=joes+river&sectionSearch=&begindate=1%2F1%2F1994&enddate=12%2F31%2F2007&authorSearch=&IncludeStories=1&pubsection=&page=&IncludePages=1&IncludeImages=1&mode=allwords&archive_pubname=Daily+Nation%09%09%09

    Seems vehicle road worthiness would be of prime concern as would be the driver.

    There seems to be nothing so far to impugn the driver, quite the opposite, passengers sing his praises.

    That leaves the vehicle.

    How rigorously are our vehicle inspections done at the Pine?

    How good is our maintenance ethic on public transport vehicles?

    Will the investigation of this tragedy expose flaws that exist, if they do?

    We cannot afford to have our minister of Transport mired in allegations of corruption.

    There is too much at stake.

  6. Wishing in Vain

    We cannot afford to have our minister of Transport mired in allegations of corruption.
    Glyne Clarke is know as the person to contact when you want a taxi or minibus permit this he does for a fee of $ 3000.00 per permit now if he is known to do this do you think that it would be beyond him to take money for inspection passes, give me a break, he is a crook who loves money and will do anything for it included stealing.

  7. Pogo

    Why not the rum makers just pay Gline Clark not to put in a breathaliser law? Then they profit and we can all drive as drunk as we want.

    Bet more tourists will come the kind we love that also think DUI laws are stupid and spend lots of $ to drink and rent cars.

    And so what if we have drunken fatal accidents every now and then. Anyway where’s the proof that high drug/alcohol levels of the drivers caused two fatal accidents lately? The police didn’t tell us they forgot to get them so they must have.

  8. Negrocrat

    Glyne Clarke is an idiot and a bribe taker. Only recently I heard that he collects $3,000.00 for permits. Check out the permits that have recently been issued for ZR Vans. Does he have any concern for the viability of our Transport Board or is the $3,000.00 more important to him?
    We can’t wait to see the backs of politicans like the current BLP bunch.

  9. Peltdown Man

    I’ve seen some stupid comments on BFP over the months, but none so stupid as that from “Wishing in Vain” that we should ignore drink/driving laws for the sake of tourism. Drink/driving laws are for the protection of ALL road users, including tourists. We have taxis, you know WIV, and that is what visitors use when they can’t drink and drive. These laws apply all over Europe, so have Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy all lost their tourist industry?
    You know that you cannot prove drink is a factor in accidents unless you test the drivers, so any other reasons you give for accidents are pure speculation. Speeding and poor driving habits are often the direct result of drinking alcohol. Methinks that you and the officials in government are in denial because you DO drink and drive!

  10. Wishing in Vain

    Maybe we do drink and drive but so to hundreds of others on these roads after 9.00 o’clock on Friday evenings but we do not see a series of accidents because these people drank two beers in a rum shop do we ?
    Let us make another effort to take away the whole concept of a care free holiday in the sunshine with no worries and let us become another state of the almighty USA or another county of the UK.
    If you can prove to me the percentage of accidents that are caused because of drinking and driving then I will start to listen to the call for the testing, do you think that those kids that came out of school and collided with the oncoming vehicle did so because they were drinking I certainly I do not, most of our accidents are the result of speeding or poor judgement not drinking and driving.
    Who or what will determine the value that will be considered illegal will it be one beer or two, we are complete jokers in this island the more we do not want to be like the USA but the more we try our best to be by adopting their laws.
    I wonder who is getting the contract to sell this testing equipment to Gov’t is it the same Glyne Clarke or is it Hallam Nicholls and Owing ?

  11. Wishing in Vain

    And yes I want to see a law in action that permits the accused to request the testing officier to first complete the test before the accused has to do it !!!

  12. Peltdown Man

    Dear “hard eyes” Wishing in Vain. I repeat, the only way that you can PROVE a driver has been drinking is to breathalyse him/her. You will be very surprised, WIV, at the result. Incidentally, where drink/driving laws apply now, there is a legal limit, which does not ban the use of alcohol altogether, so your “couple of beers” would be within the legal limit, and I think that you know that. The alternative would mean that you’re even more ignorant than you make out. Methinks you doth protest too much!

  13. Wishing in Vain

    Dear “hard eyes” Wishing in Vain. I repeat, the only way that you can PROVE a driver has been drinking is to breathalyse him/her.
    Rubbish, I beg to differ a blood test can be administered once the person is admitted into hospital, now how many of those blood test prove drinking to be the cause of the death or accident ?

  14. Breathe!

    Barbados will never have a breathalyser test thingy.
    Why? – simply too embarrassing!
    We are a nation of drunk drivers and drunk politicians!

    Just like the BigOil find wot’ll never happen,
    if it was to be, it woulda bin, DECADES ago.

    Don’t hold yer breath!

  15. Peltdown Man

    WIV. I beg to disagree. A blood test requires the patient’s permission, and who’s to say that person in hospital is the one responsible for the accident?

  16. Wishing in Vain

    So what we ask the dead person behind the wheel for a breathalyser sample ??????
    We have absolutely no need for the breathalyser test what we need is more policing of our roads and cutting out the nonsense that is taking place on our highways, but instead of gov’t taking care of the request made by the police force years ago in their call to increase the size of the force.

  17. Two Sides

    As a parent of 2 teenagers, I sometimes think that we miss the real issue where alcohol is concerned.
    The cause off this excessive drinking in my opinion is the FREE DRINKS partying that has become the latest fad here on the island. Do you know that places like Woodpeckers, Blue Bench, Extreme, Lounge and Habour Lights all offer this promotion and at BDS$18 in some cases and $ drinks in others. And this is everyday of the week As concerned parent I have to limit my kids to going out 2 nights a week and in summer it is not easy.
    Besides the drunk driving, alcohol is triggering a great deal of lewdness violence…every night the last 2 weeks there have been fights at everyone of the above mentioned locations. Bottle throwing and fist fights started by drunk teenagers. Alcohol companies must start putting pressure on these bars for this prevalent alcohol abuse otherwise we are going to be facing a huge health and social crisis in the near future. Please parents, be aware.

  18. Peltdown Man

    Well said, Two Sides. Wishing in Vain thinks that these kids get drunk and fight and throw bottles and then get in their cars and drive away normally. He also thinks that the only drunk drivers in accidents are the dead ones.

  19. Wishing in Vain

    No my point is that the number of accidents that occur on our roads are more about stupidity on the roads and poor driving skills than about drinking but you lot want us to be another US state and have the same ways and handle matters in the same way as happens in North America, we have two very different cultures and very diffferent road systems.
    What is the comparison of those killed in road accidents where the driver was under the influence of drink versus those that have had accidents that no drink was involved in at all ?
    I would put my head on a block that the numbers would confirm that the majority of the accidents with fatalities occur without drinking being a player in the event.
    As opposed to these same drivers being careless and wreckless on the roads and ending up being involved in these accidents.
    Any accident that occurs and worst yet claims a life is one to be regretted but to hurry to this breath testing nonsense is share stupidity, have our annual road fatalities figures risen or more the less remain around the same for the past 3 years ?
    Pay and hire more police to maintain law and order on our roads and that will address the issue, not only of the bad driving habits but also will help to control the other crimes like house breakings, drug hauls etc, the police force seriously needs numbers to function properly.

  20. Wishing in Vain

    No my point is that the number of accidents that occur on our roads are more about stupidity on the roads and poor driving skills than about drinking but you lot want us to be another US state and have the same ways and handle matters in the same way as happens in North America, we have two very different cultures and very diffferent road systems.
    What is the comparison of those killed in road accidents where the driver was under the influence of drink versus those that have had accidents that no drink was involved in at all ?
    I would put my head on a block that the numbers would confirm that the majority of the accidents with fatalities occur without drinking being a player in the event.
    As opposed to these same drivers being careless and wreckless on the roads and ending up being involved in these accidents.
    Any accident that occurs and worst yet claims a life is one to be regretted but to hurry to this breath testing nonsense is share stupidity, have our annual road fatalities figures risen or more the less remain around the same for the past 3 years ?
    Pay and hire more police to maintain law and order on our roads and that will address the issue, not only of the bad driving habits but also will help to control the other crimes like house breakings,etc, the police force seriously needs numbers to function properly.

  21. Straight talk

    Much as I love your posts, WIV, take my word you’re on a loser and deservedly so.

  22. RoyBoy

    WIV – I agree with U that we need more and effective policing and fewer laws. The seatbelt is a classic example. Law implemented and police charge every body in sight for the first few months – then what?
    Only those persons selling seat belts profited.
    What about our tourist industry? The tourist come to Bim to get away from these very laws and let their hair down for a short while. Bajans do the same to keep a degree of sanity in this over priced but beautiful country of ours (or theirs?)
    Place the onus on the bars etc to “manage” the level of alcohol an individual consumes as well as spend the money for the test equipment on education programmes – designated driver etc.
    We already have too many laws and not enough enforcement.

  23. Bush tea

    I am truly concerned that persons could object so strongly and illogically to a globally accepted method of scientifically confirming the level of intoxication of a driver.
    Arguments that ‘the police also drink’ or that ‘everyone does it’ border on the inane and this ‘logic’ about tourist coming here expecting to escape drunk driving rules could only apply to totally idiotic tourists. Wait until one is killed or injured by a suspected impaired driver…
    …i would not even try to respond to such nonsense…

    WIV’s position is interesting, given his strong contempt for the current government’s illogical actions on many issues. His strong and equally illogical stand here is strangely familiar in my view…

    Breathalysers are natural tools for traffic police.
    ..but then again parking meters would make sense in the city too… now THAT is an interesting story…

  24. Hard Driver

    If I have broken the law, either by speeding or reckless driving or if I am involved in an accident, then I have no problem being asked to take a breathalyser test. However, If on leaving a nightclub, just turn the key in my ignition and was stopped and asked to take one, I would have a serious problem with that.

  25. Bush tea

    So you should be free to drive drunk as long as you don’t get caught breaking the law?
    ..should everyone be free to walk around armed as long as they don’t get caught actually committing a crime?
    …face it – it is selfish and criminal to drive a vehicle when not in full control of your faculties… and no amount of regret when you sober up can make up for the hurt to others, that could have been avoided

    …it is just plain SELFISH.

  26. Hard Driver

    Because I have had a few drinks does not mean that I will be breaking the law.
    And yes … if I have a gun license then I should be able to walk with my gun as long as I don’t commit a crime …
    If you can bring me statistics that prove that there are more drunk related fatal accidents in Barbados then in the US in relation to the population of course, then I will change my outlook.

  27. Bush tea

    Hard Driver, you have no point.

    If you only had a few drinks why would you fear an instrument that would PROVE that you were “within legal limits? Without this someone who saw you with a beer bottle may suggest that you had to be drunk” – what do you think bajans would believe if you then had a genuine accident?

    It cannot be a problem to HAVE THE FACTS.

    …the gun license point is not sharp either… The commissioner do not give licenses to persons who would commit crimes of violence. The scenario would have to be anyone who wants to – walking around armed. …no one needs a license to drink.

    Your last point is BLUNT. Even if there are NO alcohol related accidents, why should police not be provided TOOLS that can clearly show this to be the case, so we could move on to find the REAL causes and deal with them?

    ..trust me hard driver, you have no case here, let us have the breathalyser and you drive more softly.

  28. DFX

    #
    Hard Driver
    November 24, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    If I have broken the law, either by speeding or reckless driving or if I am involved in an accident, then I have no problem being asked to take a breathalyser test. However, If on leaving a nightclub, just turn the key in my ignition and was stopped and asked to take one, I would have a serious problem with that.

    So let’s look at this another way…
    A policeman sees a guy holding a gun to your head; would you prefer that he waits for the guy to shoot you before he does something about it? Or maybe he should ask politely if he is going to shoot you? LOL!

    Man get real, even after 1 drink you are not in full control. If a cop asked me the test and stopped me from crashing and possibly killing myself or somebody else he has done me a favour.

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