Saturday, April 20, 2024

EDITORIAL: Reduction of road fatalities to be commended


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SO FAR THIS YEAR the island has recorded only 14 road fatalities, and according to the authorities this represents a 30-year low.

Like police traffic management veterans Assistant Superintendent Ronald Stanford and Inspector Richard Boyce, as well as Sharmane Roland-Bowen of the Barbados Road Safety Association, we believe this is an achievement of which Barbadians should be proud.

It is hardly likely that the reduction from 18 roads deaths last year, and the mid-20s a few years ago, was the result of luck; just as it is hardly plausible that when the numbers rise we can justify the occurrence based on bad luck.

As a once popular public service announcement used to say: “Accidents don’t just happen, they are caused.”

Therefore, as we celebrate one of the most festive periods of the year, a time characterised in too many instances by excessive consumption of alcohol, we implore Barbadians to act responsibly.

By now no one who will be compelled to drive over the next week should have to be told that he or she should stay away from strong beverages.

By the same token, it is not hard to notice that there are still too many occasions when pedestrians who have clearly consumed too much alcoholic beverages in fact become the biggest hazard on the road as they stumble along their merry way.

Already hard-pressed taxpayers have over the years been forced to foot the medical bills of irresponsible people who tried to convince themselves and their drinking buddies that “I can hold my drinks”.

As we consider all this, perhaps we really can apply the word “lucky” to our traffic situation since one can’t help but conclude that given the huge number of accidents recorded each year, it is truly fortunate that there are not more deaths. The frequency with which we disregard, and get away with disregarding, the traffic rules that were designed to keep us all safe is nothing short of remarkable.

And while there is definitely a place for greater policing to perhaps reduce the number of fatalities even further in 2015, with it must come the resolve by authorities to utilise the most modern tools available in the war against drunk driving.

There really is no plausible excuse that can be offered at this stage for our failure to enact legislation to support the deployment of breathalyser testing.

On Old Year’s Night next week hundreds, if not thousands, of Barbadians and visitors will imbibe alcohol beyond safe limits and simply get into their vehicles and travel as they please without a single fear of being stopped and tested for drunk driving by our police.

It would appear that because we trumpet that “we invented rum”, we are immune to its effects – until the next family has to deal with the loss of a loved one who was cut down in his or her prime by someone who was convinced he or she could “hold my liquor”.

Our achievement this year is to be celebrated, but because of our failure to step beyond the routine, we will never know how much lower that figure could have been. Let’s hope we are smart enough to resolve to do the right thing in the new year.


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