How long before the next ZR tragedy?


There has been yet another tragic accident involving a speeding ZR van. The van smashed into two elderly visitors who were crossing Hastings main road near St. Matthias gap on Friday evening 6th Nov 09 around 3.30 pm.

According to a witness, the van was not in sight as the couple set out to cross the road. The van was going so fast on the bend with a full load that it could not stop in time. The two visitors (in their 70’s) were taken away with broken bones and internal injuries. To reach that age and to have the few remaining years destroyed by an aggressive van driver through no fault of your own is sad to the extreme.

Two days before this I was nearly killed by a blue bus on a section of the road with no sidewalk in the same area. The side of the bus actually touched my arm as I leaned against the wall of a house. The bus was doing at least 70k in a 30 mph zone.

This madness has to stop.

As for the ZR.s the system is wrong. The drivers have to make the daily rent for the vehicle before they can pay themselves. This puts a lot of pressure on the driver to try to get passengers any way they can and drive as fast as possible in the busy periods to make as much money as possible. For a public service vehicle this is a conflict of interest putting everybody’s lives at risk.

In lean times, like now, the pressure is even greater.

I gather that we will have more American visitors this year due to Jet Blue etc. I fear for them as they are not accustomed to left hand driving and small roads with no sidewalks.
What will it take for the authorities to build proper sidewalks, enforce the 30 mph speed limit and change the way the ZR.s operate.?

Concerned Hastings Resident

(photo of speeding ZR by Shona)


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

30 responses to “How long before the next ZR tragedy?

  1. Dennis Jones (aka Living in Barbados)

    Some crazy logic is applied when discussing the ZRs. The notion that owners are somehow not responsible for wayward drivers, as reported in today’s papers, is one case.

    You cannot argue any justification with “The drivers have to make the daily rent for the vehicle before they can pay themselves. This puts a lot of pressure on the driver to try to get passengers any way they can and drive as fast as possible in the busy periods to make as much money as possible. For a public service vehicle this is a conflict of interest putting everybody’s lives at risk.” If that applies, then when people are under pressure they can be reckless on the road or elsewhere. Many of the publicized problems reflect the non application of a raft of good rules and legislation (road code, licensing regulation, insurance requirements, etc.) None of that has anything to do with needing to make money or pressure, except by not being law abiding.

    Next time my kid is late for her school class, I will drive on the sidewalk and on the other side of the road, and run the red light. When I reach school I wont bother to enter the car park, but will pull up where I can on the road and run my kid into school. I will get back to the car and wave to the line of cars and vans waiting and pull on to the grocery store, where I will repeat the process.

    PSVs have behaved like this for centuries all over the world (and still do in many places with a lot more chaos and overcrowding–check a few African cities) and the only way that things changed was when the owners and drivers lost the privilege to carry passengers or to drive.

  2. peltdownman

    With you all the way, DJ

  3. love

    PSV’s the world over are allowed to behave in the most vulgar a manner precisely because of the attitudes of POLITICIANS.

    When it suits the fancies of politicians you will hear them berate the PSV drivers/ owners.

    Very often this attitude amounts to nothing once the politician …once again focuses on the sacred vote.

    Here it is in Barbados PSV’s are barred from playing loud music , stopping at other than a bus stop etc.

    The questions : How many have been penalised when infractions occur ? If indeed they are penalised , how soon after are they back on the roads committing the same offences.

    As a Nation are we depending on the PSV’s……because they seemingly mitigate the inefficiencies that often are manifested in the State provided transport system ?

  4. Sundowner

    I don’t know if the Nation or Advocate have reported the Hastings accident at all, I certainly haven’t seen it & phoned the Nation yesterday to ask why not? I was put through to Editorial & then cut off………..I assume the lack of reporting on this is because the ‘victims’ (& they are) are tourists & would be bad press. Does anyone know how the elderly couple are?
    I personally always advise visitors NOT to go anywhere near a ZR van as they seem the worst of the PSV’s. I hadn’t been on a transport board bus for 2 for years until recently, & have to say I wondered if I would reach my destination intact, time to put ‘guvnors’ on ALL PSV’s.


    The Government obviously does NOT wish to solve the ZR problem otherwise they could do it with one fell swoop – – legislate: 3 reports in a year and your license is suspended for 6 months. Caught driving without a valid license – $5000.00 fine or one month in jail… and the problems would STOP.

    Of course, this legislation has to be across the board and not directed at ZR drivers only. Not a problem. The whole society would benefit.

  6. oh come on

    PSV Drivers are cash cows for the barbados treasury
    think about it, do you know how much dollars in fines the average ZR driver and conductor put in the barbados treasury in a year? what? suspend the license and suspend the cashflow?

    its all about the $$ ppl

    not condoning it but it is what it is

  7. crusty

    How many politicians do you see on PSV’s?

    Just askin’.

  8. clearly bajan

    PSVs make money. Do not ever feel that they don´t. If you want the evidence I can send it to you. And this is even without school schildren!

    I believe there needs to be a serious review of their purpose in Barbados. I have never been one to aim for the lowest common denominator and I will not allow them to be compared them to psycho drivers in Africa or South America. In those places, the road practices are VERY different and the comparison would not be fair.

    It is my belief that they need a govrning body that is more than a camouflaged union. Rules, regulations, guidelines and enforcements that match the purpose for which the PSVs are there to serve.

    Truth is, the way I honestly feel about them, I would nationalise the WHOLE TRANSPORTATION SECTOR including taxis, minibuses and ZR vans.

  9. A Bajan

    The politricians don’t want to loose the money the court collectb from the ZR drivers. So what if they kill a few tourist or even a few bajans. When a ZR takes out the wife or child of a big wig, then they will do something.

  10. civilsociety

    Why can’t we just learn from other more developed countries? Put in place a 3 strikes you are OUT system on drivers. If you get three speeding tickets or other driving infractions, in a three year period, your license is gone. Done with that. And, for ZR Drivers and anyone driving the public, they have a no strikes rule. They are NOT allowed to speed, and if they do, take away the van and the license from the driver on the spot. That would stop this madness right now. That poor couple! Imagine! And that was so unnecessary. I voted this government in because they promised to deal with it. DEAL WITH IT!

  11. Nonsense

    I use the ZR’s daily, I see their behaviour as the next generation coming, here’s my take; Start with a drug test ,if guilty suspend driver 3 months, Off route & stoppping other than bus stop, suspend the driver bus license 6 months, loud music $1000 fine each time forwith, violation of these said laws more than 3 times, revoke owners’ permit permanent.


    These Yellow Terrorists and the public transportation insanity is by far Barbados’ biggest safety nightmare. Visitors react with utter disbelief when they see busses loaded with children speeding, swerving, and over taking. The lack of concern about passenger and pedestrian safety and the absolute bare stupidity displayed by these drivers is simply not tolerated in “civilized” countries. The fact that the average Bajan requiring public transportation must endure the daily third world thug mentality of these morons makes the lack of Gov’t over site or intervention even more mind boggling. AND EVERYONE from the PM to the tiniest school child knows and recognizes the problem! Nothing is done! If a madman went through the streets of town on a day firing a weapon in the sky, he would be locked up in Dodds; yet these reckless idiots are endangering the public both on and off of the busses EVERY DAY! Disgusting apathy, Barbados.

  13. the minister

    john boyce is going to a big road safety conference all the way in russia this month if you please. he is taking his wife with him so i dont know how serious he is about road safety. seems like a nice little trip to take wifey on.

  14. oh come on

    so lemmy get this straight, he gets to take his wife on a trip with him and i gotta pay for it? is she a government official? is she going on tax payer’s money?

    my wife waan go russia too.

  15. Johnny Postle @

    The reason why the government cannot control the ZR road madness is because most of the vehicles are own by civil servants and other high rankers. Obvious conflict of interest.

  16. Sundowner

    Meanwhile the couple in the accident last Friday have been airlifted back to Canada, the 79 year old man with a broken pelvis, his wife broken arm & other injuries, still no report on the incident here, maybe HANTS will hear something over there……….

  17. oh come on

    but i thought civil servants werent supposed to have other jobs and businesses? 🙂

  18. Crusoe

    Comehere, excellently said, thugs in truth, ignored and thus virtually authorised by the authorities.

  19. Crusoe

    A Bajan
    November 11, 2009 at 11:34 am
    The politricians don’t want to loose the money the court collectb from the ZR drivers. So what if they kill a few tourist or even a few bajans. When a ZR takes out the wife or child of a big wig, then they will do something.


    Here’s the thing. We all talk about save money and save gas, cut emissions.

    But who in their right mind would put their family out there in a little vehicle that could not take a dent from a motorcycle, when these thugs and other drivers are treating the roads like a racetrack?

    No way, Jose!

  20. Clearly Bajan

    Actually the majority of the 500 PSVs on the road are NOT owned by Civil Servants.

    There are 22 people in Barbados (Syrians) who own more than half of those vehicles. And most of the businesses in Swan Street.

  21. PC Plod

    One idea that has worked would be to start a ‘sinners list’ of PSVs, listing the licence numbers and transgressions and publish it. Odd that the Nation blanked out the tag of the crashed ZR on Collymore Rock. What were they protecting or afraid of?

  22. Andrew Hulsmeier

    Sadly it will never change. Or not until some politicians family is involved in a fatal miss-hap.
    These ZR hooligans have no training. Its not about transporting people to their destinations,but how much money they are going to make. These vans are not maintained either and many of them smoking the place down.

  23. Hants

    @ Sundowner

    It hasn’t been reported here yet.

  24. Distant Voice

    In law, I think that if the driver is not an agent, the owner of the vehicle can be held liable vicariously. This means that if a person is injured by a vehicle it may be possible for that person to sue the owner. Since these ZR.s are public service vehicles it may be such that the owner of the PSV license has a duty of care to the public (passengers and pedestrians) The owner needs to have clear evidence that the driver is qualified to drive a PSV and that they are operating within the law. The driver should be penalised heavily for speeding and lose his license after three offenses. (as mentioned earlier and as is the case in other countries) The test for obtaining the license should more rigorous than for normal driving and should include skid testing etc. Drivers should be tested every 2 years.
    Does anybody have further information on the legal side?

  25. john

    How many former ZR drivers are now driving Transport Board Buses(the Blue Buses)? This may explain one such bus doing 70k in a 30k zone(or anywhere)I won’t even bother to comment on the ZR’s,they will always find someone to run to their defence of reckless behaviour,such is the nature of this modern society.

  26. Sadly enough, some passenger encourage the driver to speed. Why is it that island time doesn’t apply when the driver gets behind the steering wheel. Then island time becomes a time of pure hell. How many more people will have to get injured or even killed before the madness stoppes?

  27. marvinbareback

    We have to tie the ownership of the buses to the conduct of the ZR or B bus employee… can’t give a police officer a gun, then back away and say we can’t control how he uses it. I offered a solution some time ago. If an infraction of sufficient merit is committed, then the police or a transit inspector could put a yellow “clamp” on the bus and it is out of action for a minimum of 24 hours. A fine must be paid to release it back into service. Instant justice…… and it would force the owners to only hire drivers that weren’t going to go and get their vehicles clamped. A comment in another letter is also useful…..we should get the Licensing Authority to stipulate that drivers be paid a fixed salary with overtime and benefits etc. This notion of driving around and “eat what you kill” type of compensation obviously encourages the wildest type of driving.

  28. Avatar Girl

    LOL…those Syrians & the politicians that own the ZRs in the same boat!

    You think they would stand for a holding of their ZR for 24 hours & afine to release it if they do foolishness?

    They would sue the government up the yazoo…and get on bad in the papers too! Because it wouldn’t “look good!”


  29. !st thing, How can 90 vans with 1260 seats opperate on a 7mile road…route 11 to be exact? IMPOSSIBLE. It will be “cut throat” mad driving,extreme lawlessness. The routes need to be restructured,this will elevate all the madness. 2nd thing, a points system for the drivers should be legislated, ie: 3 points per offence, 12 points means a 6month ban. Persistent owners should have a $3,000 fine..PER offence. Drivers & conductors should have a mandatory training session for 1 week funded by Gov’mt.

  30. Pingback: One student critical, twenty-two injured by reckless ZR driver | Barbados Free Press