Exercise caution on road, say safety advocates
Two road safety advocates urged drivers to play it extremely cautious on the island’s highways in the midst of the ash fall from the La Soufriere volcano in neighbouring St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Both Sharmane Roland-Bowen, president of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA), and her predecessor Junior Jordan highlighted the challenges posed by the low visibility.
Bowen and Jordan encouraged Barbadians to stay off the roads and only venture from home, if absolutely necessary.
“The roads have become very hazardous with the ash fall; the lack of visibility and the surface of the road have also become hazardous,” Roland-Bowen told Nation Online.
“We would advise motorists to slow down and drive with their headlights on, even if it is daylight. The headlights are not just for you to see, but it is also for the other drivers to see you, even before they get close to you.”
She said: “We want to advise motorists that because of the ash on the road, it will take a longer time for them to stop, so leave an adequate amount of space between you and the vehicle that is ahead of you.
“Slow down. Take your time and try not to make matters worse by becoming distracted by using a mobile phone or driving under the influences of drugs or alcohol.
“Make the best of a bad situation by taking all of the precautions. Take your time. If they do not have to be out on the roads at this time, stay off. Try not to use the air condition because that will bring in stuff and might affect drivers with allergies.”
Jordan said the ash fall made conditions appear to be like very bad weather and he too, said drivers must not use their hazard lights.
“Drivers should use their headlights on low beam,” he said. “They will still need the hazard lights to be traffic indicators for turning left or right, and that will be important at this time.
“They should not use the high beam on their headlights because even during the daytime under normal conditions, they can be dazzling.
“I happened to be on the road, and I saw a number of people hurrying to get through the haze. That is the exact opposite of what they should do. Anytime you have reduced visibility, you must drive much slower than normal.
“Drivers should not increase their speed to try to get where they are going quicker. This is a case, where you should only leave home when it is critically necessary.”
Roland-Bowen and Jordan said the ash on the road caused the surface to be slippery and drivers must extremely cautious when braking.
“(The ash) will reduce the traction on the road,” she said. “If a driver is going to make a sudden stop, it will hamper them, so drivers must be aware that the roads are hazardous at this time.
“You should not be driving with bad tyres, but if a motorist knows that they need new tyres on their vehicle, it is advisable for them to stay home and stay off the road as much as possible.
“They should not take the risk of going out there because they never know what might happen.”
Jordan also cautioned drivers to look out for motorcyclists and people walking to get exercise because they could easily be missed if the ash fall is thick and visibility is low.
“This is something I read about that happened in Canada, where motorcyclists were being knocked down frequently,” he said.
“Everyone using the road at this time should use their headlights. Car drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists too, should use a light to indicate their movement.
“A lot of people want to get out and walk to exercise, but they need to have reflective clothing, and in some cases, even lights that they can shine to indicate to oncoming traffic and to be seen.” (AR)