UN Road Safety Convention: Should Barbados Seek Accession?

Barbados has a high road traffic mortality rate, with 27 lives lost in 2018. The government has indicated that road safety will be one of its priorities, amending the Road Traffic Act to provide additional measures to protect the loss of lives on the road. However, Barbados is not a contracting party to the UN Road Safety Conventions, the foundations for countries to develop national legal frameworks to prevent deaths and disabilities from road crashes.

Government Urged To Make Road Safety A Priority Concern

When the government of Mia Mottley took over in May 2018, it was urged to put road safety as one of its priority concerns. The Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) is a non-governmental organisation which advocates for safe driving and road use by educating the public on the dangers of irresponsible driving.

Its President, Sharmane Roland Bowen, said, “We would like this new administration to make this a priority, because the same people they fought for at the polls, for their lives and their betterment, are the same people using our roads. Nothing is more important than life, and road fatalities are preventable with law, enforcement and education.”

The number of deaths on Barbadian roads has reached high levels. In 2013, there were 14 recorded deaths, but this figure rose to 22 in 2015, and went down to 10 in 2016. Sadly, the stat spiked in 2017, with 28 deaths recorded.

The number of deaths on Barbadian roads has reached high levels. In 2013, there were 14 recorded deaths, but this figure rose to 22 in 2015, and went down to 10 in 2016. Sadly, the stat spiked in 2017, with 28 deaths recorded.

Road Traffic Conventions At The Core Of Road Safety

In 2017, a United Nations Special envoy for Road Safety called in on then President Freundel Stuart to give an overview of road safety in Barbados. Potential solutions to improve road safety were discussed, such as deploying only technically-sound vehicles, better education, improved infrastructure, post-crash care and law enforcement.

The use of helmets and seat belts, as well as the enforcement of drunk driving and distracted driving laws are extremely important concerns. Accession to the 6 conventions of the UN would enhance road safety by exchanging good practices, implementing ‘uniform rules‘ on the road in domestic traffic regulations for safety, and the application of a national framework strategy/program. For example, Vietnam acceded to the Convention in 2014 and amended its traffic law to bring it in line with its needs and the international standards. This has contributed to a reduction of road fatalities from 15 per 100,000 people to 9 in 2016.

The Fifth UN Global Road Safety aims to reduce mortality by 50% in 2020. Should the island request for accession to the UN Convention, it might help decrease the number of deaths and disabilities on its roads by restructuring its traffic laws and enforcing them in accordance with national and international regulations.

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