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New Road Traffic Act debate set for Senate today

Published:Friday | January 29, 2016 | 1:33 AM

The Senate is expected to debate the new Road Traffic Act today.

If passed, it will go to the Governor General for his signature, signifying the ratification of this legislation into law.

Then the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, will indicate when parts or all of the provisions will become effective for enforcement.

The bill covers areas such as the establishment of the Island Traffic Authority, the road code, classification of vehicles, and offences relating to the licensing of a driver.

It also proposes hefty increases in the fines for certain traffic violations.

If approved it will result in major changes for drivers in the upcoming months. 

Executive Director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Paula Fletcher is welcoming the proposed changes. 

She says motorists have been able to escape punishment for traffic violations for too long as a result loopholes in the current legislation. 

The Executive Director believes this has contributed to the increase in road crashes in Jamaica.

Fletcher says motorcyclists continuously use their learner's permit and often do not become licenced for years. 

She says this has resulted in a situation where persons are on the nation's roads without knowing the road code.

The new legislation will require that all learner drivers, including motorcycle learners, pass the Road Code Test before receiving a learner's permit. 

As such, they should be better equipped to use the roads while learning to drive.

During 2015, 111 motorcycle drivers died in road crashes, representing a 71 per cent increase over 2014.