Chairperson of the National Mirror Committee for the Road Traffic Safety Management Systems Standard, Cheryl Bennett-Inniss, receives the Standard from BNSI Chief Technical Officer, Fabian Scott. (C. Pitt/BGIS)
Barbados has more than 7,000 road traffic accidents every year- a figure which the new Road Traffic Safety Management System Standard for Barbados will hopefully reduce in the future.
This was disclosed this morning during a press conference held at the Ministry of Transport and Works, Pine East/West Boulevard, which addressed the reasons for having the document.
Chief Technical Officer with the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), Fabian Scott, explained that the International Standard – ISO 39001 – would soon be approved as a Barbados National Standard and would serve to address challenges and costs experienced as a result of traffic accidents.
Mr. Scott, who is also a Member of the National Mirror Committee (NMC), which facilitated the standard’s creation, explained that "the benefits to be gained from the publication, adoption and implementation of this standard [include]: a systematic and logical framework to address road traffic accidents, death and injury; … a structured and holistic approach to Road Traffic Safety as a complement to existing programmes and regulations; the strengthening of Road Traffic Safety efforts by addressing the relation to Occupational Health and Safety; and Corporate Social Responsibility.
He further added that it would also help to reduce the cost of business through a "combination of the reduction of vehicular repair and replacement; improved productivity due to increased man-hours on the job; and a possible reduction in insurance premiums; …and a reduction in the foreign exchange expenditure for purchases of parts and new vehicle replacement."
The BNSI Chief Technical Officer said the costs associated with traffic accidents should not be underestimated, noting that the treatment of persons involved in accidents, with more than 1,500 persons treated in 2010, and more than 1,900 in 2011, was an expensive undertaking.
Mr. Scott revealed that "the current cost of treatment hovers approximately somewhere around BDS$1,200 per patient". He pointed out that based on the trends in the statistics, between 2008 to 2012, it was estimated that the QEH treated a cumulative total of over 7, 000 persons at a cost of over BDS$ 50 million. "In the occurrence of vehicular injury one can easily see that there is a huge cost to the Treasury of Barbados," he noted, adding that while road traffic deaths accounted for 1.63 per cent of total deaths in the country, it ranked number 12 in the top 20 causes of death in Barbados.
This island’s position on the global scale was cause for concern as well, he maintained, with Barbados ranking 23rd for actual road fatalities per 100 000 people, similar to countries such as Greece and the U.S.A. In light of this, Mr. Scott observed that these deaths had repercussions at both the familial and social level, as relatives may not only lose a sole breadwinner, but the job market would also lose a productive employee who may possess a unique skill set.
The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, to which Barbados became signatory in November 2009, proposed five pillars to address this issue, namely: road safety management; safer roads and road transportation systems; safer vehicles; safer road users; and improved post crash care.
Mr. Scott noted that the Standard efficiently addressed these themes, adding that the NMC had recommendations which he believed stakeholders could apply in an effort to meet targeted reductions in road traffic accidents, death and injury. One of these, he said, was for the private sector "…to be socially responsible and seriously consider the implementation of this Standard, particularly for those with fleets of vehicles,[i.e.]…three or more vehicles, whether they are used commercially or in a private capacity by staff."
He pointed out that it was estimated that nearly one third of road deaths occur while persons are engaged in work related activity. Consequently, he contended that the private sector, as a whole, had a social responsibility, to seek to prevent work related traffic accidents and road deaths. "It would be prudent for private companies to implement road safety practices in advance of any future regulation and pro-active companies, who do so, should be recognised," the BNSI Officer emphasised, adding that Road Traffic Safety, ESSO Standard Oil SA Ltd. and Simpson Oil Ltd. were examples of this.?? He also noted that the C.O. Williams Construction Co. Ltd. had indicated its interest in implementing the standard.
The NMC includes representatives from both private and public sector entities, including the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Transport Board, Rayside Construction and the Barbados Road Safety Association.