Wed | Dec 19, 2018

Thank God! - NRSC pleased Road Traffic Act will soon be a reality

Published:Thursday | November 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
The Road Traffic Act 2018 will not only make it illegal to drive with a cell phone and other communication devices, but will attract a fine and demerit points for breaches of this provision.
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The passage of the Road Traffic Act 2018 in Parliament on Tuesday brought some measure of relief for Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC).

"Thank God!" Jones said yesterday.

However, he quickly cautioned that the legislation alone would not reduce road fatalities, which have surpassed the 300 mark for the sixth straight year.

Up to yesterday, the NRSC said that 311 persons were killed in motor vehicle crashes this year, including 20 children and 20 road deaths so far this month.

The new road traffic legislation, which will repeal the Road Traffic Act of 1938, will create new traffic offences and provide stiffer penalties for existing breaches.

Jones suggested that to make the law more effective, the traffic-ticketing system, including the issuing of warrants for outstanding tickets, must be fixed "so that people can be arrested so that they know we mean business".

 

THE END IS NEAR

 

Transport Minister Robert Montague noted that the Road Traffic Act 2018, which was passed on Tuesday with five additional amendments, will go back to the Senate for approval.

"Those [five amendments] must get approval in the Senate, but we are seeing the light. The end is near," Montague insisted.

He acknowledged, too, that the bill was passed without the required regulations but explained that this was to allow for the Senate to complete its deliberations on the proposed law.

"It doesn't make sense to bring the regulations and then you hear there is another amendment. We are now in the sixth draft," he said. "It is no longer business as usual."

The proposed law will not only make it illegal to drive with a cell phone and other communication devices, but will attract a fine and demerit points for breaches of this provision. The fines for speeding and not wearing seat belts have also been increased.

 

...Several bills stuck on Parliament's to-do-list

The four-year journey for the new road traffic legislation is nearing completion and already there is anticipation that it will play a significant role in helping to stem the carnage on the nation's roadways.

The Road Traffic Act 2018, which will repeal the Road Traffic Act of 1938, was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, creating new traffic offences and providing stiffer penalties for existing breaches.

The proposed law is one of several bills that have been stuck on Parliament's to-do-list for months. The others include the proposed changes to the Local Governance Act, which has been before Parliament since November 2016, and the proposed amendments to the Gun Court Act, which has been in the House of Representatives since May this year.

The proposed changes to the road traffic legislation first came to Parliament in 2014 and was placed before a joint select committee for review. By February 2015, the committee completed its work, but it took nine months before the proposed legislation was approved by lawmakers in the Lower House.

It fell off the order paper when Parliament was dissolved ahead of the 2016 General Elections before it was passed by both houses of Parliament in February this year and sent to the Senate with 131 amendments.

It was passed in the Senate in May and sent back to the House with 161 amendments.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com