More Road Deaths Than Murders: Yet Barbados Still Does Not Have Breathalyzer Laws Or Technology

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Commissioner Dottin Pulls His Punches So As Not To Embarrass His Government Masters

Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin told an awards ceremony audience last Saturday that more Bajans are killed in road accidents than are murdered each year. That sobering fact doesn’t even consider the devastating injuries sustained in the dozens more serious accidents that cripple people for life and destroy faces, families and livelihoods.

“We must bring an end to this carnage on our roads,” said Commissioner Dottin. (See The Nation News: Dottin Concerned About Road Deaths)

We at BFP agree that road safety through prevention and enforcement must continue to be a priority of the Royal Barbados Police Force – but we also believe that the police administration should have enough courage and sense of duty to Barbados to occasionally say what needs to be said: even if doing so would put the police in the position of revealing a failure of government. (Frankly, it would be healthy to see the police criticize government once in a while ’bout here. At least then the police wouldn’t always come across as private agents of the government rather than agents of the people and the rule of law. Ha… not to mention the police being unethically used to collect private debts as in the case of Ronjan Juman! – Juman story link here)

Commissioner Dottin’s Lie Of Omission

What was unsaid in the Commissioner’s speech is that the Royal Barbados Police Force lacks even the basic tools of breathalyser laws and equipment that professional policing organizations in most other jurisdictions take for granted.

The fact that the Commissioner of Police did not mention the lack of breathalyser laws and technology in a speech about road carnage means that he was being considerate of his political masters – to not offend the government or provide any sort of basis for their criticism. In this lie of omission, Commissioner Dottin once again showed that his loyalty is to the government first, and to the people of Barbados and policing second.

Barbados Has No Breathalyzer Laws – No Way Of Knowing How Much A Driver In A Fatal Crash Had Been Drinking

This year has been a terrible one for road mass casualties road accidents. Six dead at the Joes River tour bus crash, four more dead in the Emancipation Day crash and others. But in these and other serious crashes, aside from an autopsy, Barbados Police have no way of proving how much an involved driver has been drinking.

That is because our government has been negligent in providing the legal structure and the equipment that the police need to protect us all.

Back on July 25, 2006, Barbados Free Press reviewed the aborted Road Traffic Act that the government was to introduce the next day. We said that the government could put a breathalyzer law and equipment in place in six months. That was almost a year and a half ago…

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?

… from the July 26, 2006 BFP article Barbados Government To Ban Cell Phones While Driving

Government Continues What It Does Best: Promises That Fade Into Oblivion…

Then in August of this year – in the wake of the mass deaths and with an election in the air – Minister of Transport Gline Clarke announced that the government was going to “study” breathalyzers.

What a sad joke.

Here is what Barbados Free Press said at the time, and it still applies. Perhaps Commissioner of Police Dottin will remember where he put his courage and sense of duty if he reads it…

“Committee To Study Breathalyzers” – Who Does Gline Clarke Think He Is Fooling?

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.

… from the BFP August 13, 2007 article Minister of Transport Gline Clarke Finally “Talking” About Driver Breathaliser Tests – As First Suggested By By Barbados Free Press Over A Year Ago

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19 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law

19 responses to “More Road Deaths Than Murders: Yet Barbados Still Does Not Have Breathalyzer Laws Or Technology

  1. Jerome Hinds

    Breathalyzer Laws ….?

    Whew !

    Progressive policy initiatives such as this requires Political Will / Support from the highest organs of government .

    Will this be possible knowing how Owen Arthur loves to…..BOOZE ?

    Which police officer would have the CAJONES to charge the PM for DUI ( driving under influence ) !

    Not ’bout here !

    Pastor Victor Roach…..best of LUCK !

  2. Wishing in Vain

    The Breathalyzer will start to improve business of Taxi drivers.
    I wonder who will Breathalyzer the police ?
    Or secondly can the public insist that before they are Breathalyzer that the officer in charge also be Breathalyzer as a test?

  3. Anonymous

    drunk from the top down

  4. Wishing in Vain

    We have a very large rum industry, on a holiday island and we really want to control drinking and driving tell that to Mr Roach with a cause.

  5. Unapologetic

    Breathalyzer tests and whatever else could possibly be introduced to curb drunk driving is nothing for tourists, the rum industry, and locals who drink and drive to be afraid of.
    Barbadians like to shout about passing laws, but when they are not strictly enforced, as would no doubt be the case with breathalyzer testing, no one is any the wiser.
    In my view, whether this law is passed or not will make no difference to road accidents/deaths, it is a matter of enforcement, and over that we have little or no control.

  6. theNickster

    What about the sober speeders, all those fancy cameras and still not a decent speed trap in sight. Hard to enforce something if the enforcer isn’t aware of anything, they still pay someone to stare at those hi-tech screens? or is it just a police cricket and liquor lounge?

  7. Bush Tea

    …but you must admit that the SEAT BELT LAWS WORK……

    One thing that Bajan police can do well – peep into cars to see if seatbelts are on.

    …after driving here for near 40 years I have been stopped four times, three in the last two years WITH SIRENS, by policemen who thought that my ‘belt’ was off.

    ..so good of them to protect me from myself, who cares if i am drunk and dangerous to others?

    Funny thing though -both those cops were clearly pot-bellied rummies who were “diabetes and high-blood-pressure candidates”…… now what law can we pass to protect them from themselves???!!

  8. Tony

    Bush Tea. Why are you attacking the police like that? It is obvious you have issues with the police but you don’t have to behave this way.

  9. Anonymous

    The article on over all crime statics was careful to state that it was based on reported crime. It would be interesting to see statistics in the future that measure response times to crimes. I have recently reported two cases where property was stolen from within my storage area and the police never arrived.

  10. Alyssa

    Breathalyzers should be required in every vechile just for the fact that drunk driving has killed 29 times the number of people killed in the World Trade Center attacks so far since 09/11/01, which is 86,217 people.
    Yea so i think that this is very serious i am a 14 year old girl think that drinking and driving is beyond the wrost thing in the world, and if we had breathalyzers in every vehicle then the killings caused by drunk drivers will decrease by a massive amount. The breathalyzers they administers a breathalyzer test at the vehicle’s point of ignition. Unless the driver passes, his/her car won’t start. this way even if the driver wanted to they cant drive and keep the road clear from their danger they about put on the streets. i have so many words that i could say right now but i must get back at writting my essay on drunk driving and how breathalyzers in vehicle should be mandatory.
    Thank you for listening,
    Alyssa

  11. Martsie

    Breathalyser testing is a good idea but my problem is, will higher-ups and better-offs be included? Let’s start with ‘pack the unbreakable – king arthur- will he checked after a rum-filled paliamentary debate? Would it be wise to carry out checks after major events like, crop over on east coast, test cricket matches, St. lawrence Gap, kadooment Day and others? Should drivers be tested only after accidents or near misses? Should we tackle our tourists who come here for sun,sea sand and rum? I support drug/drink testing but fine or lock up all law breakers/makers.

  12. this is why i feel weed should be legal, i dont smoke it nor deal wid it, but weed has no proven records of road fatalities, but alcohol is responsible for the most worldwide, yet its sold in every nation worldwide.

    but i guess dem “big boys” know why dem got um illegal

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  17. victor

    We need the support of the Barbados Free Press in the campaign for drunk driving laws. How many more must die? I would be happy to hear from you.

  18. BFP

    Hello Victor

    We’ve had yet another article on the back burner for a couple of weeks. I’ll see if I can tidy it up and post it tomorrow. Thanks for your support.

    Marcus.

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