Weston Concerned About Seatbelt Wearing Compliance During Global Road Safety Week


The Minister of Works, Honorable Lennox Weston has issued a statement confirming: “The Government is both enhancing and redesigning the national road infrastructure to provide smoother roadways to improve traffic flow and travel safety of Antigua and Barbuda.

His comments come amidst the backdrop of the launch of the UN Global Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 and the new Global Plan, which sets a target of one hundred (100) percent seatbelt wearing by 2030.

The challenge confronting local law enforcement was highlighted in the recently completed seatbelt observation survey with findings that there is very poor compliance with national seatbelt laws.

The study reveals that only fifty (50) percent of the one thousand, four hundred and twenty three (1,423) drivers observed were wearing a seatbelt. Female drivers are more likely to wear a seatbelt, with almost two-thirds wearing their seatbelt compared to just forty-five per cent of male drivers.

The Minister stated that he is particularly concerned by the findings of study that also found that the seat belt wearing rate was even lower for drivers of Government vehicles, taxis, and commercial vehicles with only forty (40) percent. The observation surveys found that just forty (40) percent of male and female front-seat passengers are wearing a seatbelt.

“We cannot allow Antiguans and Barbudans to continue to put their lives and the lives of others in their vehicles at risk every time they travel on the national road network especially since the Government is investing millions of dollars to improve roadways. These surveys were conducted on the six main roads under the Government of Antigua and Barbuda Road Infrastructure Rehabilitation project and the Second Road Rehabilitation Project and it is believed that seatbelt use is even lower in rural areas.” The Works Minister said.

Global research shows that wearing a seatbelt in the front seat reduces the risk of death by forty-five per cent and the risk of serious injury by fifty per cent. Seatbelts protect the vital organs – the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and spleen and prevent ejection. People who are not wearing a seatbelt are thirty times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash.

An associated social survey of road users shows that while there is high awareness of the safety benefits of seatbelts, there is low expectation of any consequence for failing to comply with the law. Sixty per cent of males and fifty per cent of female respondents agree that ‘there is not much risk of being caught by Police for speeding on main roads. The online survey was facilitated by the Project Implementation Management Unit for the Ministry of Works and conducted by FRED Engineering, an independent road safety-consulting firm based in Italy.

Given the success in addressing cellphone use, the Government of Antigua is now considering a range of options, including increasing fines, implementing enforcement and media campaigns, and reviewing Government policies to achieve a one hundred percent seat belt wearing rate.

Minister Weston concluded that “the cellphone success is likely to be due in part to the 2019 fine increase to $500” adding that he will be working with all Ministers of Government to ensure that employees in all Government departments strictly comply with the national traffic law.

Comments too have come from the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Works, Mr. Clarence Pilgrim. He said that drivers of public transport vehicles have the lives of innocent passengers in their hands. Mr. Pilgrim added that the Ministry of works would be collaborating with transport associations to include the Bus Association and the Taxi Drivers Association to get seatbelt safety messages to their members and passengers. He stated that the Ministry of Works will be working more closely with the Antigua Transport Board, the agency responsible for licenses, vehicle registration, part of the Government vehicle fleet, private vehicles, road signage as well as traffic flow measures.

Using road traffic crash data from the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda for the period 2016-2019, the Ministry of Works estimates that the average annual economic cost of deaths and serious injuries crashes is about USD $33million. However, this does not consider the ongoing suffering of many accident victims and their families.

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  1. Up the penalties 💯%. Deal with them busting the street lights, having a conversation in the middle a d road and exceeding speed limits too. A lot of drivers in Antigua are mean and non- compliant with roadway laws.

  2. You talk about safety, what about the damned potholes the roadworks dept has laying around like a minefield all around our country? Not only are they a hazard to drivers and cause drivers to go into oncoming traffic to avoid damaging their vehicles? That brings up another point.

    We pay registration and licensing fees that supposed to go to the maintenance of our roads. Thanks to negligence of APUA, our vehicles get damaged and we now have to pay to have them fixed. I encourage all people who’s vehicles get damaged from the potholes to sue APUA and have them pay to fix our vehicles.

    You talk about safety, what about the street lights that don’t work?

    How about the police that don’t wear their seat belts as well as talk on the phone?

    How about the bus drivers who never dim their lights at night?

    The way this country is run is a crime and all people in such potions should be removed from office, fined and jailed.

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