Barbados road deaths: 240% higher rate than UK

Another year without modern anti-drunk driving laws

Be careful out there!

As Independence Day, Christmas and the new year arrive, BFP wants to remind our readers to have fun, but be careful because drunk drivers think that they are “the reason for the season”.

Our friends at the Barbados Road Safety Association recently placed 28 markers at various places around the island to remind us that Barbados is averaging 28 road fatalities a year. We thank them for that valuable service and the good work the BRSA does all year.

And we confess that we loved it earlier this year when BRSA President Sharmane Roland Bowen asked Are the police looking for someone to do their jobs for them?

The BRSA publicity campaigns save lives. Folks see the crosses and slow down. They read about the campaign and plan how they will get home before they have their first drink and maybe grab the car keys from a friend who’s had too much. Who knows how many lives have been saved by the BRSA’s efforts? Maybe even your life or the lives of your loved ones and friends.

But publicity campaigns can only do so much. If we want to change the culture of drinking and driving in Barbados, we must enact modern laws and give the police the tools to protect us.

Barbados Police lack the laws and the tools to stop impaired drivers

For years our elected lawmakers promised to implement modern laws to stop the slaughter on our roads. It didn’t happen because they didn’t care enough about the deaths of innocent people to see saving five or six lives a year as a worthy goal. Strong words I know – but maybe some politician can let us know why they as a group failed to act in the last ten years. (Comments are open at the end of the article.)

Under current laws a driver has to be falling down drunk before the police can make an arrest and protect the public. Under current laws our police officers have no way of determining how much a driver has had to drink. Some practiced drinkers are able to look like they are in control, but when they drive it’s like firing a shotgun at random into a crowd.

Even in fatal accidents, officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force have no power to require a driver to take a breathalizer test.

Everyone on this island knows that you can drink and drive in Barbados without fear as long as you keep on the road, don’t hit anything and don’t puke on the nice police constable if he stops you. That is the way it is. That’s our culture, but this part of our culture is killing people at 240% the rate in the United Kingdom*.

Former Transport Minister Gline Clark, Former Attorneys General Mia Mottley & Dale Marshall - Road deaths due to drunk driving weren't a priority for any of them.

The BLP did nothing in 14 years of government to stop the carnage. Since taking office almost three years ago, the DLP government has done nothing 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.

The DLP and BLP politicians have no reasonable excuse for not enacting breathalyzer laws.

What should be done?

Implement breathalyzer technology and laws, along with a public educational campaign on the laws and the costs of drinking and driving. We lose more people to drunk drivers than to murder but the politicians and the police still don’t get it.

We’re talking about a cultural change and that takes time, so we’d better start now. Contrary to what some otherwise fairly intelligent people say: you CAN legislate morality and you can change public culture through legislation. Laws at their heart are about the morality of any society.

Change the laws and the public consciousness and compliance will follow. If individuals do not wish to change their standards for drinking and driving, for the second offense in a three or four year period throw them in jail for a while and seize their vehicles. If they drive again during a two year period of suspension, put them in jail for the remainder of the suspension. People will soon change their ways.

We’re talking about preventing murder. We’re talking about preventing the destruction of families, faces, bones and businesses. Drunk driving has reached unbelievable heights in Barbados even by Caribbean standards. To a large degree this is the fault of the politicians and the police for failing to take action.

It is high time they did.

* How we arrived at the 240% figure

Figures lie and liars figure: but we did our best!

Depending on who you believe (and that’s another article for another day), Barbados has a population of between 255,872 (World Bank 2009) and 285,653 (CIA 2010). We’ll take the CIA population estimate because it makes us look better in the stats.

Barbados population 285,653 divided by the number of accidents a year 28 = 10163.89, so 1 fatal road accident per 10201 people per year or 9.8 fatal road accidents per 100,000 population.

According to the UK Department for Transport, there were a total of 2,538 fatalities in road accidents in 2008. (pdf here)

The population for the UK is 62,348,447 (CIA 2010) 61,838,154 (World Bank 2009)

UK population 62,348,447 divided by the number of fatal road accidents 2,538 = 24565.97, so one road fatality per 24,566 people per year or 4.07 fatal road accidents per 100,000 population.

Thus, Barbados road deaths happen at a rate 240% greater than in the UK.

Photo credits: Our thanks to The Nation for the photos of recent accidents where the police can’t tell how much the drivers had been drinking.

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20 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Health

20 responses to “Barbados road deaths: 240% higher rate than UK

  1. This from a group who blog while drunk and see how long they stay away from “the sauce,” reminds me – where is George?

  2. John

    Ian Bourne, I love it!!!!

    Really good one.

    I hasten to add that I myself am a teetotaler and really don’t drink … really.

    … but the article does make me think.

    I have encountered road hogs in my time (sometimes I can be one too) but never drunk ones.

    A close relative of mine described to me an accident she was in while seated in the last vehicle in a line of traffic waiting for it to move one Friday evening.

    The guy who caused the accident rear ended her vehicle, …. just ploughed straight into it as though he did not realise it was stopped and that there was a line of traffic.

    When he got out he could not stand up and reeked of alcohol.

    He gave his statement to the police in this condition!

    I may be a teetotaler and don’t drink … really ….. but it is the other guy or gal that matters just as much as me.

  3. sloshed again

    BFP blogs while drunk and it sound like they do other things drunk too. Every day a party at BFP. Question is do they drive while drunk? I think not. I hope not. They are concerned about it. I hope they don’t do it.

    BFP tell de truth!!! You like to say “Yes or no?” Your turn: Do you drink and drive: Yes or No?

  4. sean chandler

    While we’re talking about impaired drivers, how about the ones who park on blind crests, in blind corners, and who stop and turn without making any indication of their intent? Or the geniuses on Highway 2A who overtake on the several blind crests?

    I’ll bet there are quite a few accidents caused by them as well. Time to start compiling accident statistics for crashes involving drivers impaired by a lack of common sense.

  5. BFP

    Hello sloshed again,

    No, we don’t drive after we’ve had a few and that goes for all of us. George is quick to admit that he had a problem about ten years ago but he doesn’t own a car or a license to drive anymore so that took care of that. We all enjoy a party once ever few weeks and we have lunch on Fridays when we can but never more than a beer unless no one is going back to work or driving.

    Marcus

  6. John

    sean chandler
    November 28, 2010 at 2:05 pm
    While we’re talking about impaired drivers, how about the ones who park on blind crests, in blind corners, and who stop and turn without making any indication of their intent? Or the geniuses on Highway 2A who overtake on the several blind crests?

    I’ll bet there are quite a few accidents caused by them as well. Time to start compiling accident statistics for crashes involving drivers impaired by a lack of common sense.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    A good young person I knew got killed on the spot by an idiot coming in the opposite direction and overtaking on the blind crest by Bennets on Highway 2A because he was late for a cruise.

    As it turned out, within a year of the accident, the idiot got killed in another vehicle accident.

    I do not know if he caused that one too.

    Don’t we have a demerit point system here?

    Seem to remember something about it a good many years ago.

    Does anyone know if and how it works?

  7. John

    Two families and a whole set of friends are left to mourn the two deaths and get on with their lives the best thay can.

  8. John

    … the person who got killed at Bennets through no fault of his own was riding a motor bike although I admit he was known to enjoy the thrill of speed.

    He was in the depression and could not see what was coming.

    The guy behind him could see what was going to happen before it happened but was powerless to prevent it.

    The idiot who killed him was behind the wheel of a car.

  9. boss of BIM

    people in barbados have no sence of understanding when it comes to driving..they are not able to make up their minds from early.

  10. de hood

    @BFP
    But Sir, doesn’t it seem as if the politicians like it so? Could that be because if there were laws against driving under the influence that some of those same politicians (and police officers?) would probably be some of the very first ones to get caught? Just asking.

  11. Just last Sunday, The Barbados Road Safety Assocaition acknowledged ‘World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims’ and their families at a service at the St. Michael Cathedral and it was touching as the victims families came together. Just being remembered was important for this group of people whose pain and grief lingers for years. Road Accidents are not taken serious enough in Barbados. Read my speech on the site as well under ‘BRSA’.
    We also mounted the ‘Wall of Remembrance’ at the service where families pinned yellow ribbons on the names of their loved ones (photos to be soon posted on our site.
    Reading some of your previous comments someone asked for data on road deaths in Barbados. The BRSA began to compile such data and that can be found on our ‘Wall of Remembrance’ on our web site at http://www.barbadosroads.net. Also check under ‘stastistics’.
    We are still trying to locate families/friends of the victims but it is a very difficult job, so if anyone knows such persons, they can email the info to us at saferoads@caribsurf.com or we can be contacted at 271-1935.
    We at the BRSA understand the tremendous task facing us, but we are working to do whatever we can to make each day safer for all road users.
    We thank you for your support and look forward to more.

  12. use of english

    I just passed by Trimart in Rendevous and for the second time in a few weeks there was an accident in the same location involving one of these bikes. When will the authorities do something about these bikes?

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  17. Just survive.

    Re. the query about…
    impaired drivers, how about the ones who park on blind crests,
    in blind corners, and who stop and turn without making any indication of their intent?
    Or the geniuses on Highway 2A who overtake on the several blind crests?
    …..

    Mr. Chandler seems to think that what knowledge he and I learned in the Road Regulations book (back when that stuff mattered) 1960s?
    is still pertinent today….2000s
    I assure you Sir…it is not.

    Temporary retention of that knowledge is for the sole purpose of passing the Regulations test.
    Upon successfully passing the Drivers License test, all that hocus pocus stuff soon becomes toast!

    Daily you and I see nitwits parking indiscriminately, on the brow of a hill, etc.
    and while we grumble our logical way thru un-necessary(much of the time) traffic
    there are those better adapted to this small-island situation of
    Do what you please, because enforcement is close to nil

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