Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Little thought in traffic law reform

Published:Tuesday | May 5, 2015 | 11:04 PM


I recently saw the proposed fines under the pending amendment of the Road Traffic Act and regulations. One is left to wonder if these changes were the result of deliberations by persons who live in Jamaica in the year 2015. Or did someone take the existing regulations and just change the fee structure to provide additional revenue to the Government and others.

Here are a few examples of proposed changes that I believe do not make sense.

A) Driving motor vehicle contrary to terms of licence - $15,000.

Driving motor vehicle without driver's licence or learner's permit in possession - $2,000.

B) Failing to comply with the conditions of learner's licence - $6,000.

There must be a typing mistake for Item B. Why would driving without a licence or learner's permit carry a lower fine than driving contrary to the terms of the licence or failing to comply?

C) Overtaking on the nearside of other traffic - $5,000. What does it mean, and is it practical? The nearside is the side nearest the kerb. Observe the traffic on the four lanes Mandela Highway between Ferry and White Marl in St Catherine. The speed limit is 80kph. Yet it is normal for many vehicles to travel in the right lane at 40-50kph, the drivers being oblivious to the many vehicles behind them. Based on this proposal, if someone overtakes by using the left lane, I can be charged $5,000. But, on the other hand, I often observe vehicles, primarily in St Ann, overtaking on what would be the soft shoulder. Clarity is required here.

D) Person pouring petrol, driver leaves vehicle unattended - $7,000. What does this mean? What about diesel fuel? Or are the drivers of diesel-fuelled vehicles exempt from this fine? If the station attendant is filling my tank with gas, I cannot use the time to enter the convenience store and buy a mint, otherwise I will be fined $7,000. Ridiculous.

Did the review committee change substantial matters? My SUV is much bigger and heavier than a small pickup. Why is there a need to hold a general driver's licence to operate a small pickup? Why is a half-ton pickup classified as a motor truck? Now to obtain a general licence, the training manual speaks to throw-out bearings, intake and compression strokes, etc. How does this knowledge of basic automotive mechanics impact on the ability to properly drive a vehicle? Or is this a means to maintain the gravy train/indirect taxation for 'others'?