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More care needed by motorcyclists

The number of accidents involving motorcycles occurring on our roads, which result in fatalities or serious injuries, is unacceptable.

Four motorcyclists have died in just over four weeks and the Barbados Road Safety Association is call for urgent attention to be given to addressing this concern.

Dangerous and careless driving/riding along with excessive and inappropriate speed contribute toward serious accidents. Motorcyclists who “wheelie” (when the front wheel of the motorcycle comes off the pavement with a twist of the throttle and the bike is ridden a distance on one wheel), perform “stoppies”, burnouts and ride with their hands off the bars on public roads are not only putting themselves in danger, but other roads users as well.

These dangerous acts contribute to the number of persons being killed and seriously injured in motorcycle accidents — mostly young men in the prime of their lives with children with are often left behind. We have had 22 road fatalities so far this year, of which five were travelling on motorcycles.

The BRSA believes the development of national standards for entry-level motorcycle riders that will allow them to achieve baseline competencies needs to be introduced. Many cyclists are often self-taught — no professional training/education.

Operating a motorcycle is more complex than driving a car and bikers are 18 times more at risk of being killed and 38 times more likely to be injured in a crash than a car driver.

Targeted enforcement is needed to take off the road, unlicensed, uninsured and unregistered riders. Separate legislation to deal specifically with stunt riding and street racing should be introduced along with other punitive measures, such as two-week impoundment of the vehicles of persons who engage in stunt riding between cars on public roads or who do stunts in a residential neighbourhoods. The issue of street racing must also be addressed. The presence of police officers to deal with traffic offences must be felt on our roads. Not only do they act as a deterrent, but served as the first step toward punish offenders who behave with criminal disregard for the safety of others, in an environment characterised by tough policing and tough penalties.

The purpose of traffic laws is to help protect road users from danger, but they must be enforced. Government needs to listen to the police department when it speaks about a shortage of manpower within its Traffic Department and act now to rectify this deficiency, as this is causing an escalation in lives being lost, serious injuries and damage to property on our roads.

Road users must perceive if they break the traffic rules, their chances of being caught will be high. For our traffic enforcement to be effective it needs to be objective and subjective and failing to do both will allow motorist to violate traffic laws and get away with it. Violation of traffic rules is often the root cause of many of the accidents occurring on our roads.

Another problem that has developed on our roads is the use of the novelty type helmet by cyclists, which has become very popular. These helmets are known to be unsafe. Were the cyclist who died wearing the appropriate helmets? The only protection most cyclists have is the helmet, so it is imperative that what they wear is safe and approved.

Education is also needed for these persons, and the BRSA will be offering a motorcycle safety educational programme to help educate bikers and make drivers aware of the need to “share the road” with motorcyclists and pedestrians — as well as the many dangers involved in unsafe riding and speeding. Interested person can contact the BRSA office for information.

The BRSA is appealing to the family members of bikers to plead with these young men to stop this very dangerous and aggressive practice of stunt riding and speeding on our roads. They should be admonished to ride with due care for their safety and that of others.

When a wheelie goes bad — and it sometimes will — bikers are going to hit the ground hard, and at an unsafe speed they will die or be seriously injured, perhaps disabled for life. We are begging these young men to think about their loved ones, including children who are becoming fatherless at such young ages.

Think about who will look after your children when you’re gone. You have families that need you, so please ride or drive with caution.

— Sharmane Roland-Bowen

President BRSA

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