How much was death car driver drinking? Barbados police have no idea

Barbados has no breathalyzer law

On Sunday afternoon, Errol Briggs walked across Spring Garden Highway from the beach and was struck by a vehicle driven by Preston Parris. Mr. Briggs was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital but was found to be dead upon arrival.

The gruesome photo published in the Barbados Advocate (see above) shows the rear window of the Parris auto smashed out with blood covering the rear of the car and running onto the road. It must have been some impact and such that (hopefully) Mr. Briggs did not suffer.

The driver, Preston Parris, no doubt feels horrible as anyone would – but had this accident happened in the UK, Mr. Parris may have been required to take a breathalyzer test to see how much, if anything, he had been drinking.

Not so in Barbados.

Third world standards… Third world country

For almost five years Barbados Free Press and other responsible citizens have been calling for the implementation of breathalyzer laws to reduce the slaughter on our roads. During that time we have seen dozens of road deaths – including mass deaths on public vehicles – where our police officers do not have the equipment nor the authority to determine if the involved drivers had been drinking and to what extent. Under the current laws, unless a driver is a fall-down-drunk there is nothing the police can do.

Police Commissioner Dottin himself has often pointed out that we lose far more people to traffic deaths than murder, yet our elected government officials continue to ignore the slaughter.

Over the years the politicians have talked, postured and talked some more about how important breathalyzers are to curtail the road deaths. But talk is all they know.

The slaughter continues and our good police officers have been left without the laws and the tools they should have to protect us all.

44 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Police, Politics

44 responses to “How much was death car driver drinking? Barbados police have no idea

  1. The question you need to ask yourself is ‘Who would the breathalyzer test law implicate when implemented?’

    Food for thought!

    How long does it take just to amend the section of the Road Traffic Act that deals with drunk-driving?

  2. David Boardman

    My Uncle was a great man and did not deserve to die this horrible death . For all that knew him, you knew a man that would give the shirt off his back, let drink his drink and eat his food. My poor Uncle Errol…. I miss you I love you.

    David Boardman

  3. dominoes

    How this article writer can come to the conclusion that the driver was under the influence of alcohol,why the pedestrian walk across the high way,was it a pedestrian crossing,come on.

  4. David Boardman

    The writer did not come to that conclusion you did.

    “The driver, Preston Parris, no doubt feels horrible as anyone would – but had this accident happened in the UK, Mr. Parris may have been required to take a breathalyzer test to see how much, if anything, he had been drinking.”

    But it does beg the question was he, I’d like to know the answer.

  5. Laughing

    With all due respect…I agree with BFP re the breathalyser law. I find that too may cars are parked in front of rum shops for there to be car pooling…so u know that at least 2 cars are being driven by decidedly drunk patrons. At times there are police vehicles there as well. While I agree they could be buying the foodstuff that goes along with drinking…as if alcohol dissolves chicken and pork fat in copious quantities…I was privileged on more than one occasion to see a policeman (hat off) knocking back a beer. (Is he in uniform without the hat?)

    On the other hand just last week on two occasions in the same area as the accident, I had to brake hard off of people returning home from the beach, who didnt seem to be aware that the speed limit on that stretch of road is 80km. On both occasions what scared me the most wasnt the possibility of hitting the pedestrians, but the possibility of the 80km/h vehicle behind me rearranging the soft tissue at the back of my neck. Funny thing is, on one occassion I ended up getting the finger from a number of ‘crossers’ when I didnt come to a complete stop. If I had hit one of them, it was me vs. five people. So I would have to take a breathalyser test? What would the police administer to the rest of the ‘crossers’ in that group? A mentality test?

    My point here is that we need to ensure balance. My deepest sympathy though on the loss of your uncle.

  6. dominoes

    Ppl need to learn how to cross highways.They walk across like them going yo a funeral,slow.

  7. Peltdownman

    Another accident happened on the ABC highway last week, where people wanting to cross safely have to walk to the nearest roundabout or risk death by jumping over the median barrier. The simple solution has been there since the Spring Garden Highway was built. Pedestrial bridges. A golden opportunity for those steel construction companies that lost out on the flyovers. We’ve been told there’s was to be one built at the pine, but no sign so far. Millions would be forked-out in ransom if a child was kidnapped, but it’s just not the same when they are merely crossing a highway.

  8. I7mately

    The blood of many victims is on the hands of the politicos who never made the breathalizzer happen.

    It is a GD shame.

  9. don’t you still get a manslaughter charge for an accident like that in Barbados?

  10. Chonita Boardman

    Perhaps instead of trying to bicker back and forth at who is to blame it should be recocnized that this stretch of road has high pedestrian traffic along with vehicles travelling at a high speed. We should be pushing to ensure saftey for all travelling on this road push for a lower speed limit, push for pedestrian crossing. All I can say is heaven help Mr. Parris if he was under the influence or speeding because the loss of Uncle Errol has left a huge void in our family senslessly. He will be greatly missed.

  11. Young girl

    I think it would be a good idea to have an over head crossing or make a tunnel crossing below. Other countries have it why can’t we.

  12. John

    First of all, deepest condolences to David Boardman & family.

    The driver of the car undoubtedly feels terrible & the assumption is not that he was drinking, but the argument is that there is no test in Barbados to check.

    Last week in the Nation, 4yr olds were being breathalysed. (to show that the units were here) When is this to be implemented for the road users. Commissioner Dottin cannot use till they become law. This needs to be done with the utmost haste, to ensure drivers who drink are caught & discourage others from drink-driving so other people don’t needlessly die in a horrific manner.

    Some time ago two buses crashed, it is believed the driver of one bus was hungover from the night before, but the police had no way of confirming their suspicions. This lunacy has to stop.

  13. yatinkiteasy

    I seem to remember that the seat belt law was implemented in Barbados almost overnight, and compliance was also immediate…perhaps because of the hefty $500 fine, and lots of Police activity to enforce the law. So what is the problem with the breathalyzer /alcohol law? Is it special interests..is it just a cultural thing?
    “one for the road ” mentality? When I travel to the US and drive, I do not have more than two drinks if going out to diner. Apparently, three will push you over the legal limit in most states.
    I would guess most drivers leaving Harbour Lights, Boat Yard etc will have consumed 8 or more drinks pushing them way over the limit for safe driving.

  14. Anonymous

    Am I wrong here, but do not pedestrians have the right of way on any highway, if not by the RTA then just by common sense.

    Judging from the photo, and knowing the stretch of road, if your uncle was going to the beach, an unfortunate accident, but if the poor man was coming from the beach – negligence and manslaughter.

    Whichever, so unnecessary and oh so sad.

    My condolences to all who grieve.

  15. Eddie

    After the legislation has been put in place…..will the police be able to enforce it?

    Has anyone noticed that things are much more hurried on our roads than before? No longer do drivers wait for the roundabout to be clear before they move off. Instead, they wait for the slightest easing up and proceed as quickly as possible which usually requires those going around the roundabout to brake in order to avoid an accident. I know I would’ve driven into the sides of many a car if I wasn’t alert. It’s happened far too often.

    Suffice to say, I think the police more than have their hands full and will only bring more evidence to the court against the ones they catch. However, we all know that the police do not catch enough and people do not get their driver’s licence revoked.

    However, “dominoes” is correct that some pedestrians make it a point to cross the road slowly and that has led to several drivers being reluctant to stop at pedestrian crossings or let pedestrians cross the road at all. I’m afraid that this gentleman paid a price that he was not due and was simply trying to cross the road while this driver had no intention of slowing down. I know I’ve seen many pedestrians jumping out of the way of oncoming cars.

    I hope that the police install and maintain SECRET cameras in STRATEGIC locations around the island (in test spots at first), the legislation changed on using video in the courts and we start to see people in the papers being charged with traffic offences from big to small. The police need to bare their teeth to the drivers on the road (including the transport board drivers who drive ridiculously) and possibly bite a few or else this situation will only get progressively worse.

  16. X-Brightoner

    Chonita and David, I extend my sincere condolences to you during this terrible time. As someone who used to live at Brighton, I am well aware of how dangerous that crossing over Spring Garden Highway is and it is time that the authorities in Barbados started being pro-active instead of reactive. An overhead pedestrian crossing has been needed for at least a decade. I, myself, almost get lick down trying to save my dog. I survived, the dog didn’t.

  17. What will they think of next

    I was there yesterday. It was a horrible accident. I did not actually see when he was struck but a fisherman who he was talking to told me that they were talking and he told him that he was going home. As he started walking across the highway, someone on the beach side called out to him and he looked back at the person taking his eye off the oncoming traffic. That is when the car hit him. He was badly cut up by the car. His bowels and liver was hanging out, and a part of his pancreas was in the road. He lost most of his blood and there was a lot of his stool on the front windshield and the trunk of the car. I watched as the paramedics and a doctor worked feverishly on him. But I knew that he was not going to make it. When the paramedics loaded him into the Ambulance they were talking to him and he was responding but I could see that his injures were too severe for him to survive. I told someone that he is not going to make it alive to the Hospital. He did not.

    I think that you all are focusing on the wrong thing. That Spring Garden highway is one of the most dangerous pieces of highway in Barbados and no one is doing anything about it. How many more Barbadians will have to die on that road before something is done. Overpass, underpass , something. I overheard a Police Sargent at the accident scene saying that the Spring Garden highway is the worst highway in Barbados and I agree with him.

  18. David Boardman

    I would just like to thank all for the kind words. I would also like to thank the person above for the details of what happened , although it was very graphic . I know the road very well as does all the family and Errol himself , and we just cant cant put the pieces together as to how this tragic event could have gone the way it did. Again thank you for the information .

  19. Laughing

    Bajans always sticking their heads in the sand. there is nothing wrong with the highway…the problem is the users. People always blaming things that cant defend the accusation. Just like they call that area of the ABC highway just past LOB roundabout ‘Bermuda Triangle’ That stretch is fine…it is just that you need to keep your eye on the road when you navigate that area. You cant be texting, combing Mary’ s hair or your hair, approach it too fast if you dont have on good tyres etc.
    Similarly Spring Garden. The highway’s speed limit is 80km/h, most days so many cars are down there you cant do 80km/h . During rush hour when the cars are moving slow the accidents you get relate to impatience and to me the biggest problem….bajans inability to judge.

    I saw a previous poster state about people not waiting for the roundabout to clear. YOU DONT HAVE TO!!!!!!!!!! That is why the sign says ‘Give Way’ and not stop. But people stop, because they cant judge oncoming traffic and they are not comfortable with their vehicles ability to accelerate quickly (if it can)
    Trust me if you do a survey of people’s interpretation of road regulations you may die laughing. Someone also said the pedestrian has right of way on the highway.

    How in heaven’s name can a pedestrian have right of way on an 80 or 60 km/h highway for that matter????? Cars don’t end up in hospital!!!!!!

    That right there epitomizes the other problem in my opinion…MENTALITY along with improper use on the part of all users!! Even if the law says that and BFP will attest i’m sure to outdated laws, step in front of a car and depend on its brakes. I see that nonsense everyday and I wonder.

    There is no law that says you have to follow the law blindly. Its is there as a guide, for heaven’s sake even the judges and the magistrates have to INTERPRET it to pass judgment.

  20. What will they think of next

    Unfortunetly that is not the only death that I witnessed almost on the same spot.
    The last time about a year or two ago was a young boy. He was crossing from the beach side to the land and two cars were racing coming up the road heading to Bridgetown and one them again a toyota Corolla hit the little guy and knocked him about him about fifty yards up the road. He died on the spot. It was the summer holiday as well and he was due to return to school the next day.

    A few years ago a little girl from my district was crossing at almost the same spot from the beach side to the land side. A car stopped to let her across and the same time a taxi decided to overtake the car and it struck the little girl dragging her about twenty yards and crushing her skull. Again it was the summer holidays.

  21. Tell me Why

    Hi John

    At least a breathalyzer tester is in the island. However, I am extremely disappointed that innocent 10-year old were used for such tests. Who give permission for the tests? Did Government informed parents or guardians that such tests would have been conducted? Finally, wouldn’t it be better to test the over 17 year old. What say you people regarding the infringement of people’s human rights.

    If it was my child, whoever is responsible will feel the long hands of the law.

  22. Tell me Why

    My sympathy goes out to Boardmans on this tragic death. I am still angry with successive governments who refuse to deal with this Spring Garden Highway. Why should a highway which is the main artery for sea bathers commanding such high speeds? Wouldn’t it be better for a 60 kpm speed since the highway is sandwiched between a massive housing area and the popularity of Brandon’s beach? I have noticed many a time, groups of people including many young ones standing by the side of the road to cross and not a driver stopped to let them across. One day I notice a driver stopped, put on his hazard lights to let across some children and another vehicle overtook him, swerved off the children and continued like nothing ever occurred. It happened so fast that I was unable to get the car number, only the colour of the car. When will it end people.

    Are we going to wait for more pedestrian lives be taken before something is done? I hope the Minister of Transport is dealing with this matter.

  23. What will they think of next

    The danger area where most people were killed on the Spring Garden h/way is about fifty yards long. Streaching from where that old gentleman was killed to the steps leading down to the road which takes you up to Deaconds Road. That is where most of the people have been killed over the years.

    The Barbados Labour Party under Tom Adams built that H/way strickly with vehicles in mind no thought given to the fact that for decades Brandons has been a very popular beach for Bajans. Especially young people who are not the most careful.

  24. Laughing

    This is my last comment on this…but you see that is my point; only one in three of the incidents you described showed ill use of the road by drivers…The racers. I am old enough and I somehow remember when Spring Garden was opened there was a code attached that prohibited stopping on the road. You have the pull off on the layby. The persons who stop on the highway to let people cross (and I have seen this) dont flash there emergency lights or otherwise alert the driver behind why they are stopping.

    For heaven’s sake you should even do that at a designated crossing furthermore when you are just giving someone a chance.
    As a driver in my opinion, you take responsibility when you interrupt theotherwise free flow of traffic to grant a favour and therefore you sould act accordingly.

    This is typical crossing scenario in Barbados. (Usually not done at a crossing) Drive sees person on the side of the road (toe in the road) driver slows down while flashing lights or fanning hands at the pedestrian. Pedestrian frequently takes almost a second to react. Driver continues flashing lights or fanning. Driver behind pauses and sees nothing happening ahead assumes driver is wastiung time, or texting or car is just plain ole broiken down. Driver behind pulls out to overtake….A simple solution to the driver in front would be to put on emergency lights, roll down his window and use a hand signal to further alert the driver behind. That will not stop all accidents but it would go a long way towards limiting issues.

    This subject bothers me because people always waiting for government, but at this time of year hundreds of people cross that road a year, but a hundred dont die. Trust me if you build an overpass you will then hear people complaining that the steps too high to climb and they will still take the low road.

  25. dominoes

    Ppl are talking about pedestrian crossing,but how many ppl used them,check broad street,check any other roads,you got crossings and ppl will cross away from them,how many of St.leonards boys used the crossing that is placed on president kennedy drive,these same boys will grow up and dont used crossing,pratice it from small and you will do it when you get older.

  26. Michelle Briggs

    I love my dad very much and whatever side you choose to point your finger of judgement, Sonja, Dianne and me know a very, very wonderful, kind and extremely loving son, father, grandfather, and great grandfather was taken away.
    R.I.P dad!
    Michelle, Michael, Tristen, and Mikayla Briggs.

  27. 238

    The government of Barbados is not ready to tackle the drunken driving issue because many of the so called policy makers are ‘rummies’ themselves.

    Barbados, a nice place to live in, as long as you not have to engage the system. UTTER SHITE

  28. John

    @Tell me why

    yes it a complete abuse of parental & student rights but call me cynical but I guess they used 4-10yr olds as there was a greater chance of them getting a negative result than 17yr olds

    As for Spring garden highway, I suggest light control crossing so traffic has to stop & put cameras on the crossing to catch any drivers running the lights.

    Hindsight is always 20/20 but logic should always be part of the plan!!

  29. Mobutu

    Firstly, much condolences to the family. May you get through this time remembering your loved one’s greatness.

    Secondly, three things are required:

    – at least one properly designed and drained, openly seen (for security)underpass in that area (assuming an overpass is not practical with the large vehicles that use the area),
    then a no cross rule, such that no one will have to put themselves in danger
    – yes to breathalyser, as alcohol impacts drivers’ awareness and reaction time
    – for people to remember the term ‘stopping distance’.

    Pedestrains and motorists alike must remember, that at least three car lengths are required, more for over thirty miles per hour, for someone to stop, with good brakes and tyres.

    Someone mentioned thinking of the car behind, yes, people drive too close, not thinking that a child or animal may cross and cause the driver in front to stop suddenly. Sometimes I drive and the person behind is right up to my back bumper almost, no sense.

    Maybe, albeit sadly, some good may come out of this horrific incident.

  30. What will they think of next

    My solution for the Spring Garden H/way:-

    =Reduce the speed limit to 30MPH.

    =Install pedestrian controlled traffic lights opposite Wisers.

    =Put down Zebra crossings at different sections.

    =Put down sleeping policemen.

  31. whistling frog

    Everybody talking about “the driver drinking and drunk”etc.,,,,,,,but who say it so?????? was the pedestrian drunk and walking??? or just plain laid back?????????

  32. BFP

    Hi whistling frog,

    The autopsy will reveal how much, if any, drink was in the poor man’s body. The point of the article is that whether a road accident causes one death or ten our police have no way of knowing how much the drivers had been drinking unless they die and are autopsied.

    It is a shame on our country that none of our so-called leaders have thought that saving lives was important enough to act upon.

  33. North Point

    The police already have a breath alcohol test machine? What good is that if there are no laws that give them the power to made drivers blow into the tube for a test?

  34. 59

    No pedestrian should be crossing a highway with opposing lanes of traffic approaching at 80 km/h.
    Even if I (or my relative) were to be struck while so doing, I would not blame the driver(s).

    Even if the driver was impaired, the accident was caused by the pedestrian. (The driver did not leave the area where he was entitled to be).

    Many fatal accidents have occurred on this highway, involving at least two well known TV/radio personalities. I have never seen in the newspapers any drivers being prosecuted. Why?

  35. whistling frog

    Dear BFP,
    I am in no way for or against the driver,,,I only am trying to get across the fact that the driver having been named is now branded before anyone really knows the true facts,,,IN OTHER WORDS MR.X IS A DRUNK ETC ETC.,,,,,,

  36. Bradley

    Even at authorised and clearly defined pedestrians crossing, pedestrians run the risk of being knocked over, especially in circumstances where one driver does the right thing and stop,and another driver decides to overtake that parked car, or just blindly barges through from the other end.

    We need to go a bit further than teaching our drivers how to change gears ,steer and back into poles.

    Basic instructions in Defensive Driving would go a long way in reducing many of these preventable accidents.

    A typical example; Sometime ago I was traveling on a fairly busy main road, when I observed a woman on the pavement walking with a child on her right. She was not holding that child,and as I came almost abreast of them,the little child darted off the side walk and into the path of my vehicle. By that time I had slowed to a crawl,and covering the brake pedal with my foot. An accident was avoided due to Consideration,Observation and Forethought,and oh ..a bit of commonsense.

  37. The Watcher

    We’re at this foolishness once again.
    To start, drivers should not have to slow down to allow pedestrians to cross a HIGHWAY. Not just a road, but a HIGHWAY. We want to copy this breathanalyzer test strategy which is used in the “Metro” countries but we wouldn’t copy their good highway design! Its not like the beach appeared there weeks after the road was completed. It was there from the get go! So we did a really poor job of the implementation of pedestrian access to the beach and now we’re about to do something else very foolish. And for what? To please some disgraced ex-pastor of a sabbath keeping organization?
    Ok. With that said, here’s my deal. When we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in this futile exercise, and the results don’t justify the expense, I will be happy to see a lawsuit be brought agains the very implementers of this colossal government wastage!
    Ah had enuf!

  38. Glenn

    I first knew Errol when he and I worked together at the cable company. He provided much of my training and also afforded many laughs with his wonderful sense of humour and eccentricities. This is not to say that he was inept but rather an entertaining person. As for being cautious, he was and still is the only person I ever knew who would continue to wear his hardhat when driving between job sites as “you never know when an accident might happen”. He would even wear the hardhat on his way home in his own car after work!

    Thanks for the information shared in these comments; I can see more clearly how he met his untimely demise. My thoughts and prayers are with the Boardman and Briggs families and I can only pray that the authorities will finally do something with this section of highway to stop further injuries and fatalities. My vote would be for a slower speed (40 km/h) in a pedestrian crossing zone, traffic lights for pedestrians, and barricades to keep the pedestrians from crossing away from the designated cross-over.

    May Errol’s death not have been in vain.

  39. finger pointing

    Not to sound disrespectful of the dead, and sincere condolences to the deceased’s family, however, were that an animal like many of the carcasses which Barbadians swerve around and re-run over daily on our road, much of the ills of the dead on the road is at the fault of the dead on the road. Whereas the driver MAY have been drinking… I think it likely too that the deceased might have as well and thought it a grand idea to cross a highway filled with speeding vehicles…. I feel very awful for the driver. If you ever killed a dog, cat or another creature in the course of your driving, you know that sick feeling of taking a life. This is so much more intense… a tragedy for all, but let’s not pull the trigger on the driver too readily.

  40. Lady Anon

    What I find ironic about this article and the comments is that people seem to put the onus on the pedestrians. The Spring Garden Highway has been open for over 20 years (I believe)…even though the posted speed limit is 80 km…how many of us reduce our speed knowing that we are driving in an area where accidents occur?

    This is years now that there was to be an overpass, an underpass, a zebra crossing, traffic lights all these things which have not come to pass. Until then, we have the power in our hands and our lead feet. Slow down when we approach the area, keep our eyes opened for people who look as though they are about to cross the road, if it is safe enough (that is, no one is tailgating or coming up behind you with excessive speed), signal that you are slowing down, put on your hazard lights and allow these persons to cross safely…or as safely as possible.

  41. Jinxi

    This is a terrible tragedy and as a resident of the area all my life, I must say something has to be done.

    There is simply no way (unless you have a car) for the people on one side of the highway to access the beach. If you think about it, the legal crossings on the one hand – by the Oval, I think. The other is at the next end by Esso Black Rock! How could this ever be right?

    We pedestrians should take care yes but if this man had enough time to start to cross, then pause and look back, a clear stretch of highway in the middle of the day he could have never been invisible to the driver.

    I myself am now afraid to even attempt crossing this highway, am I now to never attempt to go Brandons???

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