Steep rise in road fatalities this year
Just about two people die here each month as a result of road accidents, a steep rise in the number of fatalities that has left road safety advocates worried about further deaths over the New Year holiday weekend.
With two days left in 2015, Barbados has recorded 22 road fatalities, more than 50 per cent higher than the 14 deaths last year.
“This increase is too much,” lamented Richard Cox, public relations officer of the Barbados Road Safety Association.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Cox pleaded with road users to take it easy and act responsibly, especially as they usher in the New Year.
“We are asking motorists and pedestrians not to leave it to the police alone because we have got to be our own police. It is in the interest of all citizens for the number of fatalities
to go down,” Cox said.
The road safety champion urged those planning to attend Old Year’s Night and other parties to know their drinking limit and not to overdo it.
Cox also called on bartenders to refrain from serving alcohol to people who appear to have had too much to drink. But he said the onus was on road users to know how to conduct themselves.
“It is up to the motorist to drink responsibly. The Barbados Road Safety Association is not asking people not to drink, we are asking you to do it responsibly,” he stressed.
Cox did not limit his concern to drivers, but pedestrians as well. He noted that too often partygoers leave events drunk and attempt to walk home, placing themselves and other road users at risk.
“Remember that a drunken pedestrian is likely to see a green light although it is red. If you are going out to party, arrange with some person to put you on your bus and let the driver put you at your gap.
“But we are asking you not to walk the streets after you have left your party and remember that the police have power to arrest any person who he or she feels is incapable of looking after his or herself and holding that person at the police station,” he warned.
Several young people have lost their lives on the road this year in accidents where there was only one victim. However, there have also been multiple fatalities, including an accident in St Philip on August 31, which resulted in the deaths of Michelle Gibson, 49, and Candace Clarke, 37, both of Cave Hill, St Michael.
However, possibly the most notorious was the accident at Two Mile Hill during the early hours of October 25, which claimed the lives of Shameka Shepherd, 23, Shakira Shepherd, 22, and Kayrie Brathwaite, 18, all of Long Bay, St Philip; and Waveney Johnson, 25, of Atlantic Park, St Philip. A fifth passenger in the vehicle in which they were travelling, Nakisha Shepherd, 23, also of Long Bay, St Philip, remains hospitalized.
Drink-driving and speeding are among the leading causes of road accidents here, according to the police.
Speaking last month at the launch of Junior Road Rangers Scheme by the Barbados Road Safety Association, Assistant Superintendent Ronald Stanford pleaded with motorists to acknowledge road safety.
In the lead up to Independence and Christmas, Stanford emphasized that drinking alcohol and driving was risky behaviour as the substance impaired judgement, often resulting in speeding.
“I want you to celebrate and celebrate responsibly. If you are going to drive, please don’t drink and if you are going to drink, please don’t drive,” Stanford said at the time. “If you drink, get other avenues for transport. Passengers, please do not accept rides with persons you know have been drinking.”