Welcome to Barbados where drinking and driving is legal. Don’t ask about the fatal accident statistics.

Updated: July 30, 2012 – Elma Moore dies in vehicle accident.

Another weekend, another motor vehicle accident death. Elma Moore died on Saturday night.

It’s Crop Over: people die because of the drinking and partying. No big deal to a DLP government who promised and failed to implement breathalizer testing and dedicated anti-drunk driving laws.

Elma Moore died in a three-car accident. There was no breathalizer to enable the police to determine if anyone had been drinking to any extent, and certainly no way of knowing if any of the involved drivers is a practiced alcoholic: smashed but able to appear sober. Only a breathalizer can tell if a driver has been drinking and to what extent: visual observations are not enough especially when dealing with practiced drunks.

Elma Moore is dead.

Some politician will talk the talk about being more careful when driving during Crop-over, but as far as implementing the promised breathalizer laws: like the BLP government before it, the DLP government lied. At BFP we’ve been writing this same article over and over again for seven years and through a host of Attorneys General who couldn’t care less about drunk driving fatalities.

Welcome to our tourist friends from the UK. You have about a 240% greater chance of death from a motor vehicle accident in Barbados than back home.

Enjoy your stay.

Original article published December 7, 2010…

Barbados Police have no breathalizer laws to keep us safe.

Politicians and the rum and beer industry like it that way.

Another day, another horrific traffic accident with lives, faces and families ruined. You’re looking at what’s left of one of the two vans that collided in Arch Hall yesterday. Five people are in the hospital – at least two with “serious” injuries.

And, once again, our Royal Barbados Police Force cannot complete a professional accident investigation because we have no laws giving them power to demand tests to see how much the drivers had been drinking.

Successive Barbados governments promised to pass modern anti-drunk driving laws for decades but they lied and the carnage continues. Visitors from the United Kingdom have a 240% higher chance of being killed in a motor vehicle accident in Barbados than back at home.

Our culture embraces drinking and driving and, in the absence of an accident, a drinking driver is more likely to be viewed with humour rather than with concern.

Tourism and the Rum Industry don’t want to interfere with the party

We have to wonder how much the reluctance to pass anti-drinking driving laws has to do with the alcoholic beverage and tourism industries in Barbados. How much is given to political parties by those whose profits might be harmed by modern breathalyzer laws? How many people have died to keep the profits up?

Could it be that the reason our corrupt and uncaring politicians won’t pass modern laws is because the tourism and rum industries don’t want to stop the partying?

Further Reading

Our thanks to Barbados Today for the photo and their excellent coverage of major vehicle accidents. Barbados Today is doing their part to focus public attention on the slaughter happening on our roads.


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, Politics

13 responses to “Welcome to Barbados where drinking and driving is legal. Don’t ask about the fatal accident statistics.

  1. Peltdownman

    Could it be that there is just a perception that drink-driving laws will adversly affect tourism? If so, it’s a misconception, because drink-driving laws are applied all over Europe and the United States, both of which have huge tourism industries. Visitors from these countries are used to living by those laws, and yet the beer/liquor industries are flourishing. It would be hard to convince me that the beer and rum industries in Barbados are paying-off anybody to keep such legislation off the books. More likely, the organisers of public fetes and those running bars might exert pressure because they labour under the same misconception. In Europe, it took time and some serious punishment to get the drink out of drivers, but the legislation has to be introduced first. Over time, people will learn to use designated drivers or use other means to comply with the law. It has to happen, or it could be that the lack of drink-driving laws will actually have the reverse effect on tourism, in that visitors will not come because of the danger.

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  4. Drink and drive laws will not hurt the Barbados tourist industry , i am shure most tourist make a budget for taxis and i am of the opinion with the island in need of xtra revenue random breath test would help the economy , also why should the tourist think they will be ok to drink and drive whilst on holiday, its not allowed in europe or the u s plus this would stop some locals from going to the rum shop straight from work , and dont forget random stops by the police for lack of insurance , no taxes , and being unqualified drivers .

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  6. BGI

    Just a note of caution: your claim of “240% greater than in the UK” is not to be disputed – I saw the calculation – but by linking this figure to an article on drunk driving leads the reader to assume that we are all a nation of sloppy drunks who go out at night to see who we can mow down in our vehicles. The best analysis would be to compare number of road fatalities caused by drunk driving alone in the respective countries.

    And so that there is no misunderstanding, I do not work for the rum or beer producers, neither own a bar or nightclub, nor a tourism establishment of any kind. I have no ulterior motive, and it is not an attack to suggest that the premise of the article is wrong. Oh, I am a Bajan who doesn’t drink, either.

  7. BFP

    Hi BGI

    No problem speaking your mind to us. We appreciate it.

    Your point would be valid except for one thing: there are no statistics on drunk driving fatalities in Barbados because there is no means of gathering data. First of all, drinking and driving is not an offense and even in a fatal accident the police have no way of knowing whether a driver is “over the limit” because there is no “over the limit” and no breathalyzer law. One has to be falling down drunk to be arrested and charged, so there are few charges laid and the number of charges do not reflect the true situation. More often than not a person arrested for drunk driving in Barbados is guilty of a bad attitude towards the police. With a good attitude the police are more likely to caution the driver to be careful and let them go on the way after choosing the “least drunk” person in the car to be the new driver. That is a true story.

    We appreciate that our narrow roads can be a factor in accidents, but there are many narrow roads in the UK too. Perhaps poor vehicle condition is a factor. We seem to have way too many mass-casualty bus accidents too.

    We’re not in a position to speak with any authority about anything to do with statistics and accidents etc., but as ordinary citizens with half our brain functioning, we can see that when there are no laws and coupled with a culture of drinking and driving, there is little the police can do on Saturday night except clean to up the mess and cart the bodies off to the morgue.

  8. Marisol

    The culture in the UK is very much that of either having a designated driver or leaving the car at home and taking public transport, when going out for a night on the town. Even so, we still have problems with drink drivers, who all seem to think that they alone are good enough drivers to handle a skinfull of liquor way above the limits allowed by law.
    Simply put. Putting drink driving legislation into effect will have no negative impact on tourism. The problem will continue to be the enforcement of existing legislation. A problem here in the UK as well as in Barbados.

  9. Marisol

    PS: Here in the UK many of the larger commercial vehicles, notably lorries, have speed governors fitted. They cannot exceed 60 mph (from my understanding). Of course Barbados, with it’s much lower maximum speed limits, would impose a far lower one but it might well reduce the high-speed passenger vehicle smash ups if imposed on ZR vans and Transport Board buses. Just a thought.

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  11. Robert Butler

    Own a holiday home in ST PETER for the past twelve years. Live in Barbados aprox five months every year and in Ireland and the UK for the rest of the year. Bars are closing all over the country especially in rural areas because of our drink driving laws etc. Big attraction to me as a tourist is the fact there no breathalyser in Barbados. I say everything in moderation. You have a great island with lovely friendly people, don’t chase the tourists away. Cheers to beautiful Barbados. Robert Butler

  12. Soldatensender

    With all due respect, I have as much of a problem with people driving while “under the influence” as the next guy—but, when you have people–licensed and unlicensed[!] who should be doing nothing more dangerous than driving a goat–behind the wheel of a 2000# weapon–well, perhaps you get the picture. I see some of the stupidest, ignorant, dumb-ass piles of [redacted] on our roads, driving likes bats out of hell, doing their macho thing…let’s get the speeders off the road. Hit them with HEAVY fines, on the spot, and I don’t even care if Constable S*** for Brains makes the stop and collects the bribe–I mean fine. If we hit drivers in their wallet they might get the message. Better yet-throw their asses into the clink for a few days and sell the parts from their autos.

  13. clunk

    Another weekend another road death or two. DLP promised they would bring in breath testing and the machines have been bought by the police but there is no law to support their use. What a mess! If only the DLP had kept 1/10 of their promises I would be happy. They kept none.