Seeking safer roads

Emergency personnel at the scene of a traffic accident.
Emergency personnel at the scene of a traffic accident.

Barbados has more than 7,000 road traffic accidents every year, which cost the Queen Elizabeth Hospital more than $50 million to treat the injured.

Now, authorities are hoping the new Road Traffic Safety Management System Standard for Barbados will reduce in the future.

This was disclosed this morning during a press conference at the Ministry of Transport and Works, which addressed the reasons for having the document.

Chief Technical Officer with the Barbados National Standards Institution, Fabian Scott, explained that the International Standard – ISO 39001 – would soon be approved as a Barbados National Standard and would serve to address challenges and costs experienced as a result of traffic accidents.

Scott, who is also a Member of the National Mirror Committee, which facilitated the standard’s creation, explained that “the benefits to be gained from the publication, adoption and implementation of this standard [include]: a systematic and logical framework to address road traffic accidents, death and injury; … a structured and holistic approach to Road Traffic Safety as a complement to existing programmes and regulations; the strengthening of Road Traffic Safety efforts by addressing the relation to “Occupational Health and Safety; and Corporate Social Responsibility”.

‘Reduce cost of business’

He further added that it would also help to reduce the cost of business through a “combination of the reduction of vehicular repair and replacement; improved productivity due to increased man-hours on the job; and a possible reduction in insurance premiums; … and a reduction in the foreign exchange expenditure for purchases of parts and new vehicle replacement.”

The officer said the costs associated with traffic accidents should not be underestimated, noting that the treatment of persons involved in accidents, with more than 1,500 persons treated in 2010, and more than 1,900 in 2011, was an expensive undertaking.

Scott revealed that “the current cost of treatment hovers approximately somewhere around $1,200 per patient”. He pointed out that based on the trends in the statistics, between 2008 to 2012, it was estimated that the QEH treated a cumulative total of over 7,000 persons at a cost of over $50 million. “In the occurrence of vehicular injury one can easily see that there is a huge cost to the Treasury of Barbados,” he noted, adding that while road traffic deaths accounted for 1.63 per cent of total deaths in the country, it ranked number 12 in the top 20 causes of death in Barbados.

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