Danger sign

BRSA concerned about taxi drivers operating under the influence

There’s fresh concern that some private taxi operators and public service vehicle (PSV) operators here are driving under the influence of alcohol.

Without giving any actual statistics, the President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) Sharmane Roland-Bowen reported Wednesday that her organization had received several complaints to this effect from visitors, who feared for their safety.

“We are speaking up for our tourists. They come to Barbados to enjoy our sea, sun and rum and yet we are not providing safe roads for them to travel on. We have no breathalyser, we have no legislation to govern or deter persons from going behind the wheel after they have been drinking,” Roland-Bowen complained during a BRSA demonstration against the sale of alcohol to minors at the Four Square Distillery in St Philip.

BRSA President Sharmane Roland-Bowen at Wednesday’s demonstration outside the Four Square Distillery, St Philip.

“Our visitors’ lives are in danger. If you want them to come here, we need to protect them. Most of our visitors, when they go out drinking, they designate a driver, which is a taxi, and because we have no laws to deter those persons from drinking alcohol, we have been getting calls that they got into vehicles and the driver was under the influence,” she stressed.

Roland-Bowen’s sentiments were strongly supported by Canadian visitor Dianne Brunet, who said she had experienced one such situation first hand.

“I was on a ZR van once and the guy was drinking rum and I was not too impressed with that,” the visitor said, adding that she would feel much safer if breathalyser testing were made law.

Contending that Brunet’s experience was by no means an isolated one, Roland-Bowen said members of her organization had also witnessed PSV operators stopping at shops and bars to purchase alcoholic beverages while on duty, without fear of legal repercussion.

“We need this to stop and one way we can stop this is by having the right laws and legislation that would curtail this type of behaviour, because they [the drivers would] know at anytime they could be stopped and checked,” she said.

“We don’t have to go too far because we see almost everyday where our PSV drivers get out of vehicles, go and purchase alcohol and then get back into the vehicle and drive their passengers. That shows how much they value life and we need to get from this negative thinking that alcohol is our culture. That probably was our culture back in the day when we had donkey carts travelling the road, but not in this day and age,” the road safety advocate stressed.

She also accused Government of not placing a high priority on the life and the safety of road users, as she cited the 12 road fatalities that have occurred so far this year, as well as the myriad of potholes in the road system, while charging that there was no urgency on the part of the Freundel Stuart administration to find solutions.

Some of the demonstrators, including visitor Dianne Brunet (left) who complained about being a passenger in a ZR van in which the driver was drinking rum.

In response, the President of the Association of Private Transport Operators (APTO) Morris Lee told Barbados TODAY he was aware of the complaints and that he wholeheartedly agreed with the call for the introduction of breathalyser testing.

“Drinking of alcohol while driving PSVs or lawless behaviour displayed by any PSV operator . . . has never been condoned by the association, because lawlessness can never merit support at any level,” said Lee, who pointed out that this year marks 25 years that he has been calling for breathalyser testing to be included in the road traffic regulations.

He however made it clear that the problem of alcohol consumption on the roads was not restricted to PSV operators alone. He also suggested that drivers should be tested for illegal substances, such as marijuana.

“When you consider the number of families that have been deprived of their loved ones in two short months every single Barbadian that uses the roads, whether as a pedestrian, a bicycle user, all the way up to a public service vehicle, should be calling on Government to make breathalyser testing part of our road safety regulations,” the APTO spokesman said.

“In addition to that, testing for substance abuse, like marijuana, is something that should also accompany the breathalyser test,” he stressed.

Speaking in Parliament Wednesday, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley did not address the issue of substance abuse on the roads but he said Government was proceeding with its promised overhaul of the public transportation system.

And if all goes according to plan, the comprehensive changes should be laid in the House of Assembly in another three months.

“Hopefully in June we should be bringing the road traffic amendments to this Parliament,” Lashley said Wednesday during debate on the 2017/2018 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.

However, Lashley dismissed out of hand suggestions that Government was to blame for recent road deaths.


13 Responses to Danger sign

  1. Janet Bishop
    Janet Bishop March 16, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Very true. They just don’t care!

  2. Jennifer March 16, 2017 at 5:22 am

    Them visitors always in fear of their lives when their people are the DESTROYers. I heard some English ones complaining in a TB bus one day about the bus too full. When they catch the tube running through the ground squeeze up like sardines during rush hour.
    Unless you have EVIDENCE you ain’t saying shyte. Bring your EVIDENCE of the amount of accidents occurring under the influence of alcohol by these guys. If these men are put in a position where they have to hussel to meet a target and then get something for themselves then you will get reckless driving too. NOT THAT I AM IN ANYWAY CONDONING RECKLESS DRIVING. Bring your evidence and fight for a pay for the men too. Put so called bajan people first, tourist coming here for a short stay, we people catching these things all day every day. We should not have to wait until tourist complain, this should be in check every since if it is an issue.

  3. gsmiley March 16, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Jennifer you obviously don’t live in Barbados. We have been complaining for years about these guys driving and drinking. We didn’t just wait until one tourist complained. Where did you get that from?

    Another thing there is no need to bombard the association to bring any evidence. You and I know that lots of bajans drive whilst under the influence and cause accidents. When it happens to you or a child of yours then you will change your judgemental attitude.

  4. Brewster March 16, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Jennifer – most countries have breathalyzers. It is the norm not to encourage drinking and driving. It is a crime. Barbados has increased road accidents lately and needs to make sure they are not alcohol related. Tourists or not, people need to be protected and at ease knowing that laws are in place to make sure those caught will be dealt with acccordinly. If a relation of yours had been killed by a drunkard behind the wheel you would not be here talking BS like this. Road safety is for all including you!

  5. Gearbox1964 March 16, 2017 at 11:40 am

    I know duh got a taxi driver who does be flying pass Four Rds in St. John heading to town pon a morning…I see de man overtake 5 cars all at once…all I tell myself is dat it is only a matter of time. De man does fly pass so fast that I doan even get a chance to ketch he plate number…all I know is that de car grey and de plate white and blue and start wid “Z”.

  6. jrsmith March 16, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Its alright having laws but , enforcing the laws is the answer , I am not living in barbados at the moment , but I had an experience being in Bim for 2 weeks took (ZR) to Kendal , this was the worst driving as a passenger experience I have ever had 40 , 50 mph through sargeants village, vauxhall. I was holding on for dear live , but never again …..

    • jennifer March 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      @jrsmith – well done sweetie. Have a stiff drink on me.

  7. jennifer March 16, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    @jrsmith – u got it sweetie. Have a brandy on me. They even putting people in laps.

  8. jennifer March 16, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    For years our people have been getting maimed, killed etc and nothing done. And the authorities know too doing nothing. But as usual some tourist complain and something should to be done. SOMETHING SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE LONG TIME AGO.

  9. jennifer March 16, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    This Stockholm syndrome shyte got to go. The politicians too who perpetuating it.

  10. jennifer March 16, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    This is not the ERA of sentancing without evidence. Get the tools for the evidence and start from there. Fair is fair.

  11. Alex Alleyne March 16, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    I’ll say it again, 2 places to stay away from “the warrens roundabout and the ZR van stand”. Nothing good can be said of those 2 arears.

  12. Tony Webster March 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    @Jennifer: Sorry….you are off on a very lonely tangential journey on this one! We don’t have to use brains on this one…just eyes. We spend $40m on last year’s Bashments, but we have neither the interest, nor the iniative, to simply get a copy of D.U.I. legislation from any one of a few dozen friendly countries; put it on our statute-books; and buy a few breathalyzers? These have been in use by civilized countries, for the last six decades!!
    Don’t try to out-do C.C.C, now!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *