Sun | Aug 20, 2017

'No excuse' - Holness says every driver must be literate

Published:Thursday | January 26, 2017 | 1:00 AMEdmond Campbell

Arguing that the Government will not compromise on the issue of literacy as it relates to obtaining a driver's licence, Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday made it clear that the State was prepared to provide remedial education to anyone who is illiterate so that he could get a permit legitimately.

"I believe anyone who wants to get their driver's licence, the State should provide the opportunities, the facilities, to support you in your literacy. There is no excuse," he said.

Holness was making his contribution to the debate on the Road Traffic Act, which is expected to be passed in the House of Representatives next week after Minister of Transport and Mining Mike Henry makes his closing presentation.

Motorists who accumulate tickets and refuse to make payments on them will run into a proverbial brick wall as provisions in the new legislation will restrict vehicle-related transactions where traffic fines are unpaid.

In addition, the new statute will empower the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) to suspend licences for drivers who exceed specified numbers of demerit points, while at the same time re-establishing the Road Traffic Appeal Tribunal to allow for appeals to this body against decisions of the ITA.

On the thorny issue of driving while using an electronic device such as a cellular phone, the prime minister said Jamaicans would have to make a shift from this practice, which could contribute to the loss of lives.

"There are those who are probably privately criticising this move to make it illegal to be using an electronic communication device while driving, but it is for the benefit of the nation. One life spared as a result of this action is enough to justify this move," Holness asserted.

He said that international statistical data have shown that drivers using mobile phones are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash.

The prime minister also highlighted the provision in the legislation that makes it mandatory for persons to have their driver's licence while driving. He contended that apart from helping the police to ascertain whether the individual is eligible to operate the vehicle, it will also assist law enforcers to apprehend wanted persons.