Executive director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Paula Fletcher says the quality of cars imported into Jamaica is not quite up to international standards. Though she is happy about the new Road Traffic Act which was recently passed, Fletcher describes the requirements for car imports as a "compromised standard".
"We need to have standards that developed countries have," Fletcher told Automotives. "Most of our cars come from Japan. (Some of) those cars could never enter the US or European countries."
The NRSC boss said cars from the US and European countries have an abundance of airbags, which are installed for optimum driver-passenger safety. She recalls cars from these countries having airbags in the front and sides of the car.
However, president of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association, Lynvalle Hamilton, contends that vehicles with several airbags are usually luxury cars, such as BMWs, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz and Audi, as well as other makes.
"[Multiple airbags] have nothing to do with international standards. There are cars of a higher grade." Hamilton said. "It depends on the luxury," he continued.
"If you are looking at a normal, low-grade sedan, it would not be expected to have all those features. It all depends on the car that you purchase. All the cars that we import have the required safety features."
He insisted that the vehicles are made to match the required safety standards. "I know for a fact that the Japanese domestic vehicles are built to match the safety standards of that country. They go through rigorous inspections where that is concerned. I am totally satisfied with [the standard of cars imported to Jamaica]," Hamilton said.
Kent LaCroix, chairman of the Automobile Dealers' Association, the new vehicle dealers' organisation, told Automotives that the cars Jamaica imports are international brands which have to be up to standard. He also said Jamaica has no airbag requirements.
"Airbags are requirements of certain countries. All the brands of cars that are imported bring in a minimum quantity of airbags for the driver and passenger. Those are the only requirements we mandate for ourselves," he said.
LaCroix said it is expensive to import cars with airbags distributed throughout the vehicle. In addition, LaCroix told the Automotives that damaged airbags are "frightfully expensive to replace".