Barbados: Tougher road laws coming

Barbados Today:-Legislation to combat drink driving and the use of cellular phones while behind the wheel is still on the cards, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley has reiterated.

However, during a spirited town hall meeting in his St James North constituency, Opposition Member of Parliament Edmund Hinkson wanted to know how soon.

Last night’s meeting came against the backdrop of two fatal accidents within the space of four months along the Ronald Mapp Highway which claimed the lives of 61-year-old Mary Downes on July 12 and 48-year-old Anderson Joseph back in March.

Back in October 2015, 36-year-old Dave Hurley was also struck down in the same area.

In response to concerns raised by residents about speeding and bad driving along the highway, Lashley assured that changes were coming to the Road Traffic Act.

“I’ve just signed off on the final amendments and it’s gone to the AG’s [Attorney General] Chambers for the AG certificate. Once that is done then it goes on to Cabinet, and on to the parliamentary agenda.

“We’ve passed all the major hurdles. We’ve placed some provisions in there that never existed in the Road Traffic Act before,” Lashley said, adding that “we’ve looked at the Road Traffic Act and  . . . we are ensuring that there is provision in the law that makes it a serious offence to drive while using a cell phone or any other device.

“We’ve also placed in that Road Traffic Act . . .  a provision for the use of breathalyzers by the Royal Barbados Police Force,” the minister said, adding that “we are dealing frontally with drunk driving and driving under any other influences”.

However, Hinkson wanted to know when the actual amendments would be presented to Parliament.

“We’ve been hearing about this [amendment to] this Road Traffic Act for about two years now,” the Opposition legislator said.

“On behalf of my constituents, let’s stop talking about the Road Traffic Bill which is not even on the Order Paper to be discussed in Parliament as yet. Let’s look to implement it,” he added.

Back in May Lashley had promised that the Road Traffic Amendment Bill would be presented to Parliament immediately after Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler presented the 2017-18 Budget. However, the move remains outstanding even though the Budget was tabled at the end of May and approved.