The urgent need to reduce fatalities and life-changing injuries on the roads of Barbados was the focus of discussions at the highest level on Tuesday (August 8), during a visit by the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt. After meeting key stakeholders, including the Prime Minister, the Hon Freundel Stuart, who is Chair of the Barbados National Road Safety Council (BNRSC), Todt said: I have the assurance that things are going to change and I know that it can happen.”
  Following an introductory meeting with the local team at United Nations House in Marine Gardens, hosted by the UN’s Stephen O’Malley, the group travelled to Government Headquarters in Bay Street. UN Special Envoy Todt, who is also President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), was accompanied by Mr O’Malley, FIA Vice-President for Sport Jose Abed and Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) President and Vice-President Andrew Mallalieu and John Sealy; the latter is also President of the Barbados Automobile Association (BAA), the BMF member with responsibility for the FIA’s Mobility mandate, and sits on the BNRSC.
  In addition to the Prime Minister, they met with the Hon Michael Lashley, Minister of Transport and Works, and the Hon John Boyce, Minister of Health, who are Deputy Chairmen of the BNRSC. After what were described as constructive and productive discussions, including aiming for a target of no road fatalities – dubbed ‘Vision Zero’ - President Todt and his party returned to UN House, where a further meeting was held with members of the BNRSC, a number of NGOs, also professionals from the finance, healthcare, insurance and motoring sectors.
  At the end of a visit he described as “very intense, very productive” following discussions about eradicating road deaths in the island, President Todt said: “We cannot accept that every year around the world 1.3 million people die on the roads, which means almost five times the population of Barbados. We cannot accept that 50 million people are injured because of road crashes, so I consider that a small educated country like Barbados could be very ambitious and aim for 'Vision Zero'.
  “And we know how to do it, it’s around education, it’s around law enforcement, road infrastructure, safer vehicles and post-crash care. I know that there are some problems that there are people who are not respecting the speed limits, people who are not respecting not to drink and drive, not to text and drive, not buckling the safety belt, not putting on the helmet, but it must be changed.
  “Clearly, we hope that my visit as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety and as President of the FIA, will help to create momentum. And I will be monitoring very closely what is happening and I have the assurance from the Government, from the NGOs in attendance and from the Barbados Motoring Federation that things are going to change and I know that it can happen.”
  On the topic of enforcement, Todt added: “The penalties should be severe. There’s no point in educating people, there’s no point in speaking about regulations, if they are not enforced. We hope that the Government will be very active in enforcing the regulations for everybody . . . not only for the population of Barbados, but also those who visit.”
  BMF President Mallalieu added that Barbados has led in many areas as a Small Island Developing State, and this is another area where it could demonstrate leadership: “Our goal is to have no deaths from road traffic accidents. We call it ‘Vision Zero’ and, over the next several months, we will be working with all stakeholders to determine how we can implement a plan to achieve this vision.”
  In the afternoon President Todt was hosted by the BMF at Bushy Park in St Philip, which he had last visited in August 2012, when he broke ground ahead of the 1970s venue’s comprehensive redevelopment, after which he left the island to continue his tour in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize and finally Mexico.
Editor’s note: affiliated to the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), which rules the sport worldwide, the Barbados Motoring Federation (BMF) is the island’s governing body for motor sport; it also represents the interests of its Member Clubs in discussions with Government departments which facilitate the sport in the island, in particular the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, which permits road closures for an agreed number of events each year. Away from motor sport, the BMF affiliate which answers the FIA Mobility remit is the Barbados Automobile Association (BAA), which is an executive committee member of the Barbados National Road Safety Council (BNRSC).
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