Barbados Road Safety Association “Are police looking for someone to do their jobs for them?”

BRSA President Sharmane Roland Bowen slams police over call for “Road Safety Czar”

Accident Victim’s Aunt blames Royal Barbados Police Force for failing in their duty

“This is a tragedy that should not have happened.  How many more of our people going to lose their lives before the law enforcement exercise their duty?” … June Straughn, aunt of 17 year old Rossi Straughn – killed while riding in the open back of a truck.

A few days ago Police Inspector Leon Blades, the officer in charge of Traffic Division, admitted to selectively not enforcing a part of the traffic law that just resulted in the needless death of a young man. During the same interview the Inspector called for the establishment of a “Road Safety Czar”.

Barbados Free Press covered the story and said “included in those who aren’t taking road safety seriously enough are members of the Royal Barbados Police Force who fail to enforce the Road Traffic Act.” (Read our previous story Fatal Traffic Accidents: Police admit not doing their job.)

Today the President of the Barbados Road Safety Association also strongly responded to Inspector Blades’ interview – basically telling Blades and his officers to stop whining, and to enforce the traffic laws and show some leadership. Whew!

“A road Safety Czar is not the answer to the problems relating to fatalities and serious accidents that Barbados is experiencing on the roads. What is the Police trying to say? Are they looking for someone to do their jobs for them or are they trying to shift the blame?”

Sharmane Roland Bowen, President of The Barbados Road Safety Association quoted in the Barbados Advocate article No need for road safety czar, says Road Safety Association

No kidding! Good for Sharmane, whose organisation unfortunately must spend about 50% of their effort telling our police to just bloody well do their jobs.

There are many changes that could be made to the laws, and we certainly need breathalyzer legislation and equipment – but if the police would aggressively and consistently enforce the existing traffic laws they could calm down drivers and save some lives.

Victim’s Aunt blames Royal Barbados Police Force for failing in their duty

“First and foremost I will like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who sent their condolences to the family of Rossi Straughn that lost his life in an unwanted accident.  This is a tragedy that should not have happened.  How many more of our people going to lose their lives before the law enforcement exercise their duty?  Is Barbados still behind time in this civilized era?  Oh my belovest country we should join hands together to educate our people specifically those that seat behind the steering because life could be snatched in a second due to Human errors.  Please join me in mourning the lost of a promising young man that has so many potential to be the child of this nation.  I do hope we learnt a very good lesson from this tragedy.

With my respect and deep regret I sent this message to our friends and family for the lost of my nephew.

JUNE STRAUGHN”

The sad truth is that had Inspector Blades and his officers enforced the law that prohibits riders from the back of open vehicles, 17-year-old *Rossi Straughn would still be alive and his family and friends would not be grieving.

Rossi Straughn’s death falls squarely upon the shoulders of Inspector Blades and his officers.

Here is the newspaper article with Sharmane Roland Bowen’s comments about the police.

You should click on the title link and read the complete article at the Barbados Advocate, but we’ll reprint the whole story here because the Barbados Advocate often revises history by deleting past articles to suit changing political agendas.

No need for road safety czar, says Road Safety Association

8/30/2010

THE Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) has expressed its view that the call for a Road Safety Czar by the Police is unwarranted.

“A road Safety Czar is not the answer to the problems relating to fatalities and serious accidents that Barbados is experiencing on the roads. What is the Police trying to say? Are they looking for someone to do their jobs for them or are they trying to shift the blame?” says Sharmane Roland Bowen, President of The Barbados Road Safety Association.

The Minister of Transport and Works recently outlined the plans for the establishment of a ‘National Road Safety Council’ which would be mandated to implement a national road safety action plan with new initiatives that will entail working committees to deal with various aspects of road safety.

“The Royal Barbados Police Force needs to make their presence felt on our roads every day and to enforce the traffic laws. It seems that they are just targeting the PSVs but they need to concentrate their efforts on the entire road network. Not one PSV was involved in a road fatality this year”.

The Barbados Road Safety Association is calling for the police to conduct more vehicle checks along with the officers of the Ministry of Transport and works to get illegal and unsafe vehicles off our roads.

The BRSA believes that legislation dealing with traffic offences with sentences that fit the gravity of the offence, a fixed penalty system that deals with the speedy adjudication of violations coupled with the Demerit Point system to single out and take repeated traffic offenders off our roads would assist in dealing with many of our problems.

Such can only be achieved through rigid and extensive enforcement by tightening the noose on reckless and hostile motorists through a set of deterrent measures and aggressive traffic enforcement by the police.

Most accidents are attributed to driver error which many times are caused by drivers committing traffic offences that are too often undetected. Drivers need to be sent a clear message that this country would not sit back and allow them to control our roads and no czar can do this.

With law enforcement in place, progress would then be achieved when all stake holders in road safety learn to work together. It is only then that we would be on ‘the road to safety’. (PR)

(Photos courtesy of The Nation)

* The Nation initially spelled the victim’s name “Roosi Straughn” but his aunt wrote “Rossi Straughn”. Barbados Free Press would appreciate confirmation of the correct spelling. Thank you.

25 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Police

25 responses to “Barbados Road Safety Association “Are police looking for someone to do their jobs for them?”

  1. While I can understand the outrage of the victim’s family, it must be considered the Police are VASTLY understaffed – their current salary is NO incentive, must be redressed DBY (Day Before Y’day) and incentives for better educated officers to apply – why not actively recruiting White & Indian communities?

    Canada’s RCMP is mostly University grads, what can we do to emulate?

  2. BFP

    Hi Ian,

    “Canada’s RCMP is mostly University grads, what can we do to emulate?”

    Easy! Raise the pay enough that university grads start to apply for the job. Frankly, during downtimes like now, that would be a lot less than good times… but a whole lot more than the police are paying now.

    In terms of quality of police personnel, right now Barbados is mostly getting what it pays for.

  3. runner

    I don’t believe that you will find any disagreement with the RBPF not enforcing traffic laws, but we need to acknowledge that there is a very serious issue of how we, the regular civilians, are using the roads, and that is the biggest problem. ie just looking back to young Rossi’s accident…from the images i saw in the Nation, it looked like a head on collision. so the question is how and why that happened as that is the bigger issue here. we need to understand very specifically what is causing these accidents.. perhaps we need to strengthen the licensing requirements for commercial or truck driving..or all licensing requirements.
    but i got to say this, and i’m sorry to say, but young Rossi had to know or should have known that standing at the back of a moving truck is a disaster waiting to happen and no law or enforcement of the law could have necessarily altered that unfortunate outcome. we need to own up to our responsibilities and good judgement in the absence of the enforcement.
    @ bfp the issue of raising the pay is a step in the right direction but unless it becomes or presented as a “career” option , you will not get the dedicated person.

  4. Peltdownman

    Regrettably, I’m with “Runner” on this. I have also noticed how vehicles with passengers standing in the truck bed appear to be driving faster and more recklessly than others. Could it be that the drivers are trying to “impress” their passengers in some way?

  5. what will they think of next

    Because “Canada’s RCMP is mostly University grads” is this the way for us to go here in Barbados?

    Only “university grads” can solve crimes or straighten traffic problems?

  6. what will they think of next

    University grads do apply here in Barbados but the Commandant of the Police training school says that they “are not committed enough”. Whatever that means.

  7. Anonymous

    The point of a university education for police officers (and BDF) is that a decent university education teaches the student how to think, meaning how to take in data from observation, how to process those data, and how to use the data to develop meaningful conclusions. What this might mean would be things like the police knowing not to be discharging their weapons in crowded urban areas causing serious bodily injury and death to innocent bystanders. It might also cause the police to notice folks standing in the back of open trucks and to then stop said vehicles to prevent loss of life. It might also cause the police to put some light-skinned officers in civilian clothes into an H car and slip on down the road to Boscobel to check out just how much road toll is actually being extracted from tourists in that area. Of course university trained folks will want a decent salary, but maybe we could double the salary and cut the number of officers in half if those officers were decently trained, felt they had the respect and support of government and the general population, and were willing to apply a reasonable intellect to the tasks at hand.

  8. FearPlay

    ..”had to know or should have known that standing at the back of a moving truck is a disaster waiting to happen and no law or enforcement of the law could have necessarily altered that unfortunate outcome.” So true runner. Also, while it sounds great to say “raise salaries and get university grads to apply”, one must ask if this would really solve the problem. How many government offices currently boast of having university graduates on board with no visible increase in quality or performance? A university degree is not a magic bullet.
    On two different trips to the USA, I encountered taxi drivers with degrees, one a female with a PhD in Kansas City while the other was from India and working part-time as a taxi driver and part-time as a teller with Bank of America in Washington DC. Can you imagine a Barbadian with a degree driving a taxi? No sir, we are too “smart” for that. Better to stay at home.

  9. Bradley

    We in Barbados, have not or were never interested in Road Safety in this country,and I must agree with the Road Safety Association that the Police appear to want to pass the buck , when it is their bounding responsibility and mandate to operate in the role of Road Safety Czar in Barbados. If they are unable to do it, pray tell me who else can fill the role.
    We are now jumping up and down,like a fowl with its head severed,shouting about road safety,when over the year the police and authority have systematically turned a blind eye to, minor offences committed by road users. And I always start with the bicyclist,who tommorror will be a PSV driver or other motorist,and will continue to perform the same antics and disrespect for law and order, including scant respect for the Police Officer.They have brought these things upon themselves.
    The present Road Traffic Act and the Road Traffic Regulations of Barbados,cover almost every situation, giving the police the clout to prosecute offenders. But all we are hearing ,is that we want more legislation. As it stand ,the Road Traffic Act and Regulations therefore does not worth the paper its written on.Transporting people on the back of vehicles is spelt out clearly in the RTA/RTR. i.e Any person wishing to transport passengers on the back of a vehicle must apply to the Licensing Authority,who will grant a specific number, providing that adequate seating arrangement has been made on that particular vehicle.
    Recently Parliament debated use of the Cell Phone while driving. In Barbados there are now many vehicles fitting with DVD screens on the dashboard in full view of the driver, in fact I have driven behind a slow moving car on the ABC highway,only to find out that the driver was watching ‘Days of Our Lives.” What are we going to do come the end of 2010, when LIME will be streaming video /live programmes Blackberry and other cell phone users?
    In Broad Street there is a big video screen on the BNB building, doesn’t the authorities realise that this is a distraction to motorists, and could cause an accident. And knowing how follow- pattern a people we are,a business at the bottom of Oistin Hill, has placed a TV screen just above its entrance ,in full view of passing motorist who are just a few feet from a busy intersection. But no one seems bothered.
    Perhaps in 5 /6 years time or when it causes a serious accident,which ever comes first.
    We need to deal with the following if we want to recover some measure of sanity on our highways. 1.Bicyclist. 2.Motorcyclist, 3. People selling or congregating at street corners blocking the view of motorists and causing accidents.
    4.Modified cars with ear splitting exhaust, and a host of additional lights in contravention of the RTA/RTR. Plus the widespread use of low profile wheel rims, causing the driver to play ‘motorised hop-scotch’ to avoid pot holes in the road.
    5. The Ministry of Transport needs to review the classes of driver licenses it now awards. We have people going in for a driving license on the smallest car /van possible, as they are easier to handle. They pass the driving test for a Private Car ,and without any further training or practice, they are now entitled to drive a whopping big Ford F150 SUV, which in effect is a TRUCK, and this might have stemmed from the fact that such a vehicle registered Private put more money into the treasury, by way of road tax ,that if the same vehicle was registered as a Goods Vehicle, requiring a Commercial Driving License to operate it.
    6 Last but not least, the public needs to be properly educated on the correct usage of our highways. We drop things on motorists, and expect them to comply . It is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident at those roundabouts designed and marked out like the Garfield Sobers(Life of Barbados) where for instance motorists coming from Sargeant Village constantly take the extreme left hand lane and then try to beat vehicles which are already in the roundabout wishing to travel towards Graeme Hall.

  10. crabbie

    I am really disappointed at this statement made by the aunt of Rossi while my heart aches at how he died I still don’t feel this anger should be taken out on the police for what; are the police guardian angels now every place that a crime or accident is going to happen, be reasonable here please you and I both know that Rossi ask for a lift, he could have told the truck driver to let him get off that is called ( saving my arse) cause we all know that driving so on these roads like that leads to death, so don’t blame the police for this one he should have made the choice WHICH he did and we know how that went so don’t turn his death into a war with the police and forget the most important thing here was the choice he made …………….. May He Rest In Peace

  11. Johnny Postle

    You really believe that increasing police salaries will make them any better at enforcing the law? If any of you believe this, especially you Ian Bourne, you are sadly mistaken. Doing very little is common standard operational procedure in Bimshire. Doing alot around the time of a crisis is our way of saying we are dealing with it. After the crisis we go back to the willy nilly.

  12. John

    Runner – Agreed, on what looked like a wide enough road, a head-on collision occurred, how & why? Was this investigated?

    This is a case when the breathalysers that are sitting on a shelf somewhere should be used.

    I hear the BRSA complaining about the Police but not demanding breathalysers be introduced, why not???

    Anywhere in the world if an accident occurs, especially a fatal one, drivers are routinely breathalysed, whether drinking is suspected or not.

    When will the BRSA call for their introduction??

  13. Replying to John
    The Barbados Road Safety Association has been speaking out on the breathalyser test for a long time.
    That article was basically dealing with the cry for a Czar.
    Please visit our web site and join our efforts for safer roads in Barbados.
    Shelly

  14. John

    Shelly.

    Really? I read the Nation & Barbados Today (sorry BFP) & apart from one short article where 4 yr olds were being breathalysed in a school, I have never seen any articles by the BRSA calling for their introduction. If you get the public behind you, it will make your job so much easier. I appreciate the whole Czar issue though, the Police have the regulations already to deal with the some of the problems, if they did their job, some of the problems wouldn’t happen. Personal driving habits need to change as well.

    I will check out you web site again

  15. John

    Shelley, as I thought, I’ve just been all over your website again & I didn’t see one mention of breathalysers at all. You have some good advice on there but no calls for drink-driving legislation. The BRSA needs to be more visible on this. You recently launched a drive safely campaign – in a bar! How many people had a beer or two before they left?

    Accidents are happening where drink is suspected but the police can’t do anything because they don’t have the equipment/laws to prosecute. There needs to be a huge campaign to get this in action.

  16. reality check

    some really good and constructive comments.

    Where are the comments of the elected politicians on these critical issues setting out their solutions
    and positions.

    They don’t comment because they don’t have to and no one would believe them if they did promise something.

    Barbados is long overdue for real leaders with l integrity and teeth.

  17. Bradley

    @reality check
    You have summed it up remarkably.
    ”Barbados is long overdue for real leaders with integrity and teeth.”
    And may I add “GUTS.” Someone once said that …’a Statesman looks after the next generation, while a Politician looks after the next election.”

  18. Mobert

    ‘Barbados Road Safety’ is an oxymoron.

  19. Boody

    John
    You have been misled about the launch of the Drive safely campaign being held at weizers (A bar). the reason it was held there was becaused it rained cats and dogs the morning of the launch. It was scheduled to be held on the spring garden highway on the lay-by of the NCF park like premises. which was to also draw attention to the number of accidents occurring on that road which is especially dangerous to pedestrians, but because of the rain we were unable to go ahead with the location/spot that morning and Weizers on the bay then allowed us to use the shelter of their premises to carry out the event of which we were grateful, so please don’t be misled or mislead the public by making them feel we would plan a launch of a road safety campaign at a bar.. And the answer is NO to that question about persons drinking a beer. The launch was at 10am and there was no drinking of any kind of alcohol, I can assure you of that.
    On the issue about the breathalyzer is yes, we fully support the introduction of the breathalyzer testing and would like to see it implemented immediately, even if it can be used in its initial stage of testing all persons involved in serious traffic accidents just to get an idea to gather some sort of statistics. thats part of the excuse the authorities use is that there are no statistics to prove that there are person driving under the influence of alcohol. How can they get proof if they are not testing (jokers) Do they really want proof? Hopefully it is on the agenda for the ‘decade of action’ which will commence 2011 – 2020 of which Barbados has signed on to – The Moscow Declaration of which our country made a commitment, so we’ll soon see.
    We will be initiating a drink drive campaign in November which will be promoted in our Designated Driver Program (STAR) in Road Safety Month so stay tuned.
    Feel free anytime you need to talk Road Safety I’m Here

  20. Hi John
    1. On the left hand side of the web site’s front page is a photo of a drink and car keys. When you click on that there is quite a bit of information concerning alcohol and driving.

    As a victim of a drunk driving accident, one who cheated death, I may add, I have written several articles which were in the press and I am constantly speaking out against drunk driving for the BRSA and on Kadooment day and Bridgetown market days, we were on Spring Garden appealing to revellers not to drive if they were drinking.

    As for the launch of our Road Safety Pledge, as correctly explained by another writer, the spot on the Spring Garden Highway just up from Weisers was chosen for the launch as the area is proned to serious accidents.

    The weather that morning was heavy showers with thunder showers and Weisers offered their premises to us for the event because they have an interest in road safety.

    Weisers is also a restaurant and although we had our own refreshments for our guest they allowed us to use their premises and they did not benefit financially from the launch except for a few fish cakes which my daughter and my niece bought.

    I would also like to state that we at the BRSA do not tell people not to use alcohol and we do not discriminate against anyone using or selling alcohol. Our message is clear and simple – If you drink, do not drive.

    2. Speaking to a group of campers aged 5-17, about all areas of road safety, we touched on drunk driving and showed the breathalyser to the group. Of course it could not work then, but the children were allowed to see the device and told how it can help keep the roads safe.

    Unfortuantely reports were sensationlised, but for any adult to think that breathalysers would be used on 4-year-olds is stupid, but that is the kind of stuff that Barbadians seem to be keen on holding on to and using for what gain…I am not sure.

    These children are going to be driving in a few years and it is very important that they are made aware of the dangers of drunk driving. They too can assist in getting their parents not to drink and drive and they should also know that they should not get into a car with anyone who they think might have been drinking alcohol.

    The BRSA recognises that one of the headaches on the island is the attitudes that Barbadians were allowed to develop over the years. This kind of attitude is seen in work places, in homes, in schools and unfortunately it extends to every aspect of our lives including sports and our roads.

    We recognise that our job is a difficult one, but by the Grace of God we will fight the fight, day by day and if we get one person converted each day, we might save a life.

    I look forward to your assistance in making our roads safe and feel free to contribute to our web site.
    Shelly

  21. Capt. Nobody

    I said that before, I say that again: Barbados needs deep reforms, expecially regarding Police and their duties.

    Police is overloaded of duties and they have a limited amount of officers. Can’t work!
    A new system should be on place, something like having a brand new “Parish Police” taking care of traffic and road safety in their respective Parishes.
    That should make “free” many RBPF officers that can be used to better fight crime and better respond to citizens needs. Sounds crazy?

  22. John

    @Shelly/Boody. Point taken & accepted. Like you my argument is for the introduction of logical & sensible laws on drink-driving.

    These campaigns need to be front & centre at every opportunity with media coverage & support.

    Here’s hoping!!

  23. Pingback: Barbados road deaths: 240% higher rate than UK | Barbados Free Press

  24. Pingback: First Time! Transport Minister mentions ‘Breathalyser’ will be part of new Road Traffic Act | Barbados Free Press

  25. RC

    More death and mayhem last week with drunks at the wheel but no drunk driving charges preferred by the police. Why is that? The driver was liming all night then an accident and no drunk driving charges. Why is that?