Of late, the number of reports about serious accidents has been startling. Almost daily now, we are hearing of an accident here and an accident there and by all reports, these are not simply fender benders. The frequency of these serious accidents is certainly cause for concern.
We have heard of late that the Ministry of Transport and Works is bringing on stream a programme to address a number of road safety concerns, as well as to address the issue of the increasing accidents on our roads. Great! We are curious, however, to hear what is being done to date, with the information gathered from the iRap project. Certainly this could prove useful in addressing the matter at hand as well.
It was around this same time last year, the month of March, that the Ministry noted that a registered UK-based charity iRAP, which is dedicated to preventing road deaths and injuries, would be working with the Ministry to evaluate the safety of Barbados’ main road network, inclusive of its highways. That project was supposed to last for six months. iRAP’s work would prove key, since the agency uses Risk Maps, which use detailed crash data to illustrate the actual deaths and injuries on a road network and gives objective measurements of the level of safety provided by a road’s design, with the safest roads awarded five stars, whilst those which are unsafe, could get a rating as low as one star.
We are yet to hear full details of the implementation of the Safer Roads Investment Plan, which was a promised outcome of the data collection and analysis process, under the iRAP Project. The last we heard was that local engineers and decision-makers were being trained in the use of iRAP methodology, to give the Ministry the local capacity to refine and implement the Plan to benefit all road users. If ever we need such a Plan, it is now.
That said, there are a myriad of other issues that need to be dealt with, when it comes to this whole issue of road safety. For a long while now, endless calls have been for the introduction of Breathalyser Testing, in Barbados. What we should take note of as well, is the call for a traffic school in Barbados. Along with a call for more effective educational campaigns about road safety, some road safety advocates have been pushing for defensive driving classes for those who infringe traffic laws, as well as a re-sit of the driving test, required to gain one’s driver’s licence. It has been noted that those who cause serious accidents on local roads and those who are caught speeding, should be made to attend this special traffic school, where they can revisit the defensive driving rules.
This call for a traffic school has come, given the fact that some road safety advocates have made the argument that when people are charged with “driving without due care and attention”, they often just get a slap on the wrist, but the police should have the option to send these people back to traffic school. It has been suggested that by employing such an approach of selecting persons to attend the traffic school, this could aid in cutting down some of the recklessness on the road, while possibly adding to Government’s coffers. Perhaps this is something the Ministry of Transport and Works could give some serious consideration to.