Traffic clampdown - Senate passes measure to curb lawlessness on roads
"Obey the law," was the firm and ominous warning from Leader of Government Business Kamina Johnson Smith as lawmakers in the Upper House yesterday gave the nod to the new Road Traffic Act with a staggering 161 amendments.
Indicating that it would not be business as usual, Johnson Smith took aim at "irresponsible road users", declaring that the tough, new law was aimed at tackling indiscipline on the nation's roads.
"We have to turn the corner on the question of discipline and law and order in the society. We have to get serious and have people think seriously about the law and about how they use the road," Johnson Smith charged.
She made it clear that the far-reaching legislation, which was debated extensively during three separate sittings in the Upper House, was not prompted by arrogance or lack of care for motorists. "... It is care for the lives that are lost [and] for the families that are impacted; motherless and fatherless children, persons left paralysed and unable to provide for themselves or their families because of irresponsible road users," declared Johnson Smith.
Public passenger vehicles
Johnson Smith singled out some public passenger vehicles that she claimed operated in an unacceptable manner. "So when you have the buses and robots ... driving as if [they were the] 'baddest' and wickedest driver [and] that they are the best, we need them to understand that they are the worst ... . It is not cool. People die," she pointed out.
The leader of government business sounded a note of caution to motorists who continued to breach the traffic laws with impunity. "Who can't hear will feel."
In her contribution to the debate on the Road Traffic Bill, Donna Scott-Mottley, leader of opposition business, called for the elimination of traffic ticket amnesties.
"I say to this administration, and any future administration: no more amnesty. The first amnesty that you do will unravel everything that has been done," said Scott-Mottley. "No more amnesty. We have to commit to it. It must be part of an unwritten agreement between both political parties."
The last traffic ticket amnesty, which ran from November 27, 2017, to January 13, netted more than $256 million, according to Tax Administration Jamaica.
Main features of new Road Traffic Act
Some of the main features under the new Road Traffic Act that was passed in the Upper House yesterday include:
- Motorists who exceed the speed limit in school and construction zones by 33 to 49 kilometres per hour and by 50 kilometres or more will face stiffer penalties.
- A motorist who exceeds the speed limit by 50 kilometres in these zones will lose 10 demerit points, increasing from six points. The offending motorist could have his or her licence suspended for a single offence.
- Motorists exceeding the speed limit by 33 to 49 kilometres could lose six demerit points, increasing from three points for that offence.
"It is important that we send a signal to our drivers that our schoolchildren who are taking the bus, who are standing waiting for parents, or otherwise traversing the road area around their schools [should] be able to do so safely, and this is why we have treated the fines and demerit points significantly," said Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, leader of government business in the Senate.