Barbados Bus Crash Injures 59 – Police Cannot Determine If Drivers Had Been Drinking

Were Transport Drivers Drinking Or Hung Over? Barbados Police Lack Breathaliser Equipment & Laws To Properly Investigate The Accident

Barbados Police Lack Breathaliser Equipment & Laws To Properly Investigate Road Accidents

Thompson DLP Government Continues BLP Policy Of Doing Nothing To Stop Drunk Driving

A major crash between two buses and an auto yesterday left dozens injured, and just like the other major bus and auto crashes during the past three years our Barbados police do not have the breathalizer equipment or laws that would show if any of the drivers had been drinking.

We lose more people to drunk driving than we do to murder, but after eleven months in office, the Thompson DLP Government has done nothing to address the serious problem that our country lacks enforceable, modern drunk-driving laws.

In practically every civilized jurisdiction in the world when there has been an accident and the police suspect the driver might have had even one beer, the driver has to blow into a breathalizer machine to prove how much alcohol is in his or her body. We know that some people can drink lots and not “look” like they are drunk, but they shouldn’t be driving. The breathalizer provides scientific evidence so there is no doubt.

Barbados Free Press has been calling for breathaliser laws and equipment for the police for almost three years now. In that time we have seen some horrible accidents and even mass fatal accidents – but our law enforcement officers have no way of testing to see how much those drivers had been drinking. Short of falling down drunk, there is no law against drinking and driving in Barbados.

The first job of government is to protect the citizens, and successive BLP and DLP governments have failed to protect the citizens when it comes to people who drink and drive.

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 since, 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 in July of this year, BFP said…

Prime Minister Thompson… time to act, Sir. If your government can’t implement breathalizer laws during the first year of your term, that will pretty well say everything about your priorities and leadership.

    Attorney General Stuart, Prime Minister Thompson, Transport Minister Boyce

Attorney General Stuart, Prime Minister Thompson, Transport Minister Boyce

Three Men Who Could Have Saved Lives In Barbados But Chose Not To

Prime Minister David Thompson, Attorney General Freundel Stuart and Minister of Transportation John Boyce did nothing in the past year to introduce breathalyzer laws and equipment to Barbados, or to stop the drunken slaughter on our roads every weekend that kills outright or cripples people for life and destroys faces, families and livelihoods.

They have no reasonable excuse for not doing so.

During the past year, they could have obtained already-crafted legislation from any number of sources, and purchased equipment and trained police officers as the legislation was being finalised. Six months, tops.

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.

All that is readily available if our government gave a damn.

Like the previous BLP Government, the Thompson DLP Government seems to have trouble actually making things happen. Lots of cheap talk, but no real achievements to make life better and safer for Bajans.

Further Reading

Nation Newspaper – 59 Injured In Bus Accident

CBC – Scores Injured In Bus Accident


November 22, 2007 – Five Year Sentence For Dangerous Driver – But Still No Breathalyzer Law

October 30, 2007 – More Road Deaths Than Murders: Yet Barbados Still Does Not Have Breathalyzer Laws Or Technology

August 15, 2007 – Minister of Transport Gline Clarke Finally “Talking” About Driver Breathaliser Tests – As First Suggested By By Barbados Free Press Over A Year Ago

July 25, 2006 – Barbados Government To Ban Cell Phones While Driving


Filed under Barbados

28 responses to “Barbados Bus Crash Injures 59 – Police Cannot Determine If Drivers Had Been Drinking

  1. nevermind Kurt

    Give them Hell BFP. Thompson had a year and did nothing.

  2. akabozik

    This article and the Byer-suckoo article has me thinking. What has the government of Barbados accomplished in the last year?

    Free bus rides for students is all I can think of.

  3. Fair Play

    I do not know the cause of this accident but expect more involving Transport Board buses.I go walking on mornings and the buses travel at excessive speeds very close to the side walks.At nights the 11.00 and 12.00 buses travel even faster and reckless.

  4. Red Lake Lassie

    Unless and until the police get breathalizers we will never know the true cause of many “accidents”.

    Didn’t the BLP promise breathalizers for years when they were in power?

    Nothing has changed.

  5. blink69

    What was the cause of the two crashes mentioned in this post? (Six dead at the Joes River tour bus crash, four more dead in the Emancipation Day crash)

    How do we know ther was no drinking by the drivers?

  6. The Scout

    With an influx of ZR/MINI BUS drivers now employed by the Transport Board, the culture come with the package. I’ve seen a serious decline in the driving habits/manners of the average Transport Board emplyees. Excessive speeding, reckless driving e.g overtaking in dangerous positions, driving to close to the vehicle in front of the bus etc. I once reported an incedent and was told by personnel at the Company that they receive numerous complaints for this paticular individual but persons are unwilling to come to a hearing because of threats made to them by this guys posse. He was and still is occasionally a ZR driver.

  7. John

    November 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm
    What was the cause of the two crashes mentioned in this post? (Six dead at the Joes River tour bus crash, four more dead in the Emancipation Day crash)

    How do we know ther was no drinking by the drivers?

    ………………. no coroner’s inquest yet.

  8. Eye95

    The real issue in relation to the ongoing “EASILY FORESEEABLE AND PREVENTABLE” ACCIDENTS involving Transport Board busses is:

    How was the DLP able to presss an additional 57 busses into service in three months (Thompson’s free-bus-ride July 7th budget announcement and the start of the September school term)

    Are these the same 57 busses that were condemed as “un-road-worthy” under the BLP administration?

    The DLP is therefore compromising the safety of Barbadians merely to make good on a policy? All blood shed is on the hands of the ruling party!

    Every one knows that 57 of those busses will continue to put school children and passengers at risk.

    The major question is:

    “How did the DLP get the Inspectors at MTW to issue road worthy certificates for 57 busses, that a mere three months earlier, were condemed by the same department as not road worthy.

    Talk about collusion and curruption!


  9. Lady Anon

    C’mon BFP. Could it also be the fact that the drivers were past ZR drivers? Could it be the syndrome of the “old taxi man in the hat”? Could it be the chicken that crossed the road?

  10. passin thru

    It could be many factors that caused this latest serious bus accident. It could be many factors that caused the last two bus mass fatalities.

    There are two points to BFP’s article that I can see:

    1/ The police and the public will never know if alcohol consumption was a factor in these accidents because the police don’t have the breathalizer equipment nor the laws to authorize the use of the equipment. (ie: to compel accident drivers to blow into the machine)

    2/ Both the DLP and BLP governments have failed to introduce anti-drinking & driving laws that would make our roads safer by setting alcohol consumption limits that can be scientifically tested by police rather than relying upon subjective analysis by each officer to determine whether the driver is too drunk to drive.

    As BFP says, it would be very simple to introduce this and to save lives.

  11. littleboy

    Three months now make ayear!!! Wow BFP, I thought you were all for THE TRUTH!!!
    Boyce, Stuart and Thompson have no connection to the tragic occurences of July 2007.
    We need breathalizer, yes, but please do not apportion blame by innuendo.

  12. passin thru

    I believe the article is clear that successive DLP and BLP governments have failed over the years to pass effective anti-drinking & driving laws and breathalizer laws. The technology has been around since the 1950’s.

    The current DLP government is carrying on the fine tradition set by all previous governments of failing to protect citizens from drunk drivers.

    Why hasn’t the current government done anything about it? Take your pick 1/ They don’t see it as a priority, or 2/ they are incapable of making anything happen.

    As for me I don’t know whether it is #1 or #2!

  13. Wow !
    How in a modern society with so many vehicles and so many careless drivers on the road , we do not have testing for DUI. How can this be ?

    Answer: It is so because we have been reluctant to teach our people our history. As a result we have social categories that determine one law for the meads and one for the persians. If we have alcohol testing , it would touch certain so-called Big-ups and we cant have such persons before the courts, oh no! these are respectable persons -only riff raff should be punished.

    We are not going to progress and build a just society until we make the corrections.
    It is the first start

    Asiba for CHANGE


    BFP says,

    george here. Got that right Asiba! We traded one set of massas for another and I mean we traded British overlords for ones we elect ourselves. I don’t see much difference in the end.

  14. quills

    unfortunately excessive alcohol consumption has and always will be part of the zeigtgeist in barbados and if the government was serious about dealing with this problem, they would have instituted laws decades ago.

    however, in light of the increasing road fatalities, they should start to reassess their position on this.

    i live in canada, where most citizens take drinking and driving laws seriously and as liberal as my own children and friends in their circle may be, when driving they stick to the one drink limit, or drink nothing at all. if it’s a party or nightclub outing, there’s always a designated driver, or they take a taxi home.

    there are billboards and electronic signs over highways, that remind people not to drink and drive. posters in the lcbo ( liquor control board of ontario) entreat people to “drink responsibly” and if the consumer looks to be under age, they are asked to show i.d. before they can purchase alcohol.

    where i reside, the city of hamilton public health services has a campaign reminding everyone to drive sober. posters and “think before you drive” cards are distributed to various banquet centres and bars in hamilton and the “never drink and drive” message is promoted throughout the community.

    police also encourage citizens to call “911” if they suspect a drunk driver is on the road, or see someone excessively drunk at a bar and witness them get into a car to drive.

    ontario leads the way in combating drinking and driving with some of the toughest laws and programs in north america, including:
    – immediate licence suspension
    – stiff fines
    – longer suspension periods
    – mandatory alcohol education and treatment
    – vehicle impoundment.

    there exists multiple models which the barbados goverment could adopt, but it seems that they lack the fortitude to even broach this problem.

    perhaps this issue can be tackled from the ground up, if not from top down, for a start – from one’s own home and social circle. parents need to model responsible behaviour for their children, by setting tangible examples their children can witness and adopt in their own lives.

    perhaps community groups could start drinking and driving campaigns, handing out flyers at social events and asking for permission to advertise in bars as they do here.

    change has to start somewhere and perhaps when the government witnesses movement at the grassroots, public outreach and activism, they just may be encouraged from move inertia to momentum in order to tackle this problem.

  15. Take Note

    Quills is right when s/he says, speaking about ‘alcholol legislation … “if the government was serious about dealing with this problem, they would have instituted laws decades ago.

    If the government was serious about the mini-bus bad-behaviour situation they would also have instituted laws to correct it as well.

    Well, as somebody said elsewhere “it’s life in the tropics.” More specifically… it’s life in Barbados where there is nuff talk and little action.

  16. quills

    in addendum, i just wanted to say that this is a situation that moves me at the core.

    my ex-husband started drinking at about 12 years of age and has never stopped since then. he normally starts drinking around 1 and drinks continually through the day and into the evening. when he drives, it’s usually with a beer or glass of rum and water tucked between his legs.

    there have been many times coming from dinners or parties that i thought i had breathed my last, in those treacherous corners and roads, both in barbados and guyana. so to speak, i should’ve be dead many times over.
    driving to pick up the children from school, he’d either fix a drink from home, or stop at a rum shop or gas station.

    his dad and uncles died of alcohol related diseases and many, many times i tried to encourage him to slow up – if not stop for a while, just to give his body a break. of course my entreaties feel on deaf ears. he’s one of those “functional alcoholics”, who can drink a half bottle of rum and not appear drunk. but mostly, he just doesn’t know when to stop…

    we now know that a high percentage of alcoholics have a genetic predisposition to the disease, but this is seen as a risk factor and not a foregone conclusion.

    in the west indies, alcohol abuse is endemic, but viewed as an acceptable rite of passage. is it too late to do anything about this? do regional governments have the fortitude and resolve to change drinking and driving laws? what will it take – some horrific, multiple fatality accident that claims one of their own family?

    or will they turn their backs and go on governing as though people have the legal right to drive drunk behind the wheel of a weapon and destroy life…

  17. Hants

    quills says

    “driving to pick up the children from school, he’d either fix a drink from home, or stop at a rum shop or gas station.”

    I hope you have told your children that Daddy is endangering their lives and that of other drivers.
    Hopefully they will not use him as a role model.

    It is unfortunate you had to put up with this level of abuse.

  18. quills

    hants ~ thanks for your comments.

    my children are all grown now and living here with me in ontario. thankfully have developed the good sense and judgment to drink responsibly. they’d rather spend money on a taxi and get home in one piece, than take a chance on the road.

    from what they witnessed with him, as children and now as adults, they’ve obviously learned from his mistakes and have chosen not to perpetuate his behaviour.

    and for that, i am eternally grateful…

  19. Anonymous

    “What was the cause of the two crashes mentioned in this post?
    (Six dead at the Joes River tour bus crash,
    four more dead in the Emancipation Day crash)” you ask…

    Just like the stinking smokey vehicles polluting my lungs.
    Do as yuh please.
    chances of being caught are close to zero.
    Enjoy the lack of law enforcement and do yuh ting, Star!

    Driving drunk and being drunk are part of My Culture.
    I draw the Cultural veil over the non-problem, and all is cool.
    My drug is a legal drug, therefore it is cool.
    LAW makes it so.
    Additionally, there is zero will to enforce,
    therefore My Culture will overcome any rational common sense and morality.

    DRINK AND DRIVE,man -it’s My Culture!
    and not a man can do anything about it in dis land of Mickey Mouse.

    Don’t stop de Carnival,
    Yours Truly,
    Herman Wouk

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  21. Eye95



    BFP says,

    Eye95, first of all please don’t SHOUT. It is hard to read and is considered bad manners.

    Secondly, the obvious point of the article is not that the accidents were caused by drinking and driving, the point is that our police have no means of telling whether or not alcohol played a part. That is because of the failure of successive governments of both the DLP and BLP who do not see road deaths as a government priority.

    It is pretty simple.

  22. Ras Bash

    wait………………………….but wanna duz really read or wanna just jump pun band wagons……seriously doahhhhhhhhh…..what if those buses were from the batch that we condemned as being not road worthy……who then was/is responsible…………..

  23. penman

    Goodevening, food for thought, ah wonder what is the difference between a drunk driver & a sober driver with a cell phone to his or her ear talking wid somebody while driving. man cell phone rang, he looks away to pick up the phone, car collide 2 people dead he gets 6yrs in jail, what you all think?

  24. Wright B. Astard

    Saw a lady driver recently with a Hands Free Cell Phone. With both hands on the steering wheel,the phone was lodged between her left ear hole and shoulder .

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  26. Drood

    How many times have I seen a bus stopped en route for a bottle toting passenger to have a piss roadside? Several. Open alcohol should be banned on all vehicles, that’s what the developed world does.
    A driver can be drunk behind the wheel but only risks a citation if an occupant of the vehicle is not wearing a seatbelt; now that’s putting the cart before the horse!

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