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Motorcycle lawbreakers pose threat to road users

Published:Saturday | April 2, 2016 | 4:00 AMJason Cross
These bikers were seen along Spanish Town road in Kingston on June 6, 2015.

The traffic department of the Jamaica Constabulary Force is becoming increasingly concerned about a worrying trend throughout the island among motorcycle drivers who run afoul of the law.

Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Allen, in charge of the traffic division, has reported that motorcycle drivers who have had their motorbikes confiscated by the police simply go out and purchase new ones without returning to reclaim their motorbikes from the authorities.

"Since the start of the year, we have seized more than 250 motorcycles. Most were in the western end of Jamaica, in Westmoreland. We're seeing that instead of these guys coming back to claim their bikes, they just go and buy another motorcycle, and they are off driving again, with no formal training. It is that easy for some," Allen explained.

Thirty six out of the 103 persons who have died on the roads since the start of the year were motorcyclists.

Allen acknowledged that the sharp increase in the number of persons acquiring motorbikes, who are not properly trained to drive them, poses a serious risk to public safety. He said that the significant increase in the number of motorcyclists is facilitated by current traffic regulations, which only require bikers, trained or untrained, to acquire a learner's permit to become eligible to ride.

He pointed out that the proposed amendments to the new traffic laws would address some of the gaps in the current law.

DRIVER'S LICENCE

"What I'm happy about is that the new Road Traffic Act is going to tighten the way in which motorcyclists go about getting a driver's licence. A motorcyclist now just goes to the tax office with two photographs and he takes out a learner's licence and then he is off driving the motorcycle. The new Road Traffic Act stipulates that you will have to go through the formal processes, just like getting a driver's licence for your motor car. They will have to go through the entire process and go and learn to drive the motorcycle, and go and pass the necessary test at the Island Traffic Authority," he said.

"A heavy part of our focus is the wearing of protective helmets. All the other vehicles, the motor cars, the vans, come with safety devices, seat belts, airbags, etc. The motorcycle is the only one that comes with nothing. I don't believe that a man is to go and buy a motorcycle and walk out of that facility without a protective helmet, so I'm hoping for the day that comes to fruition," Allen stressed.