Road safety stakeholders confident Road Traffic Bill to be passed soon
With the official opening of Parliament and the start of a new legislative year, road safety stakeholders remain confident that the new Road Traffic Bill will be passed into law in a timely manner.
Dr Lucien Jones, chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) says he has met with the Prime Minister, the House majority leader, Transport Minister Mike Henry, and the Minister of Justice, all of whom indicated their commitment to give priority to the passage of the Bill within the legislative year.
"All the players who will have to carry it forward on the Government side have assured me that it will receive priority attention. On the Opposition side, they would have piloted the Bill in the Lower House so they are fully on board and it went to joint select committee so whatever issues may arise we hope they were sorted out in joint select committee, so it's a mere formality of putting it on the table," Jones said. He pointed out that challenges to the Bill might arise when it goes before the Senate, as the members of that chamber did not debate it. For Jones, the Bill is important because it will aid in decreasing the number of motorcyclists that are dying on the nation's roadways. According to Canute Hare, head of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, the Bill will revolutionise the prospects for road safety in Jamaica.
"It will revolutionise road safety in Jamaica. The Act that we have now is from 1938 and motor vehicles have gone through a lot of revolutionary changes since then so the Act seeks to align Jamaica's road safety apparatus with that of the global road safety community," he told The Gleaner. The Act will, among other things, introduce a tire safety standard, impose a ban on texting and driving, will empower the Island Traffic Authority to suspend drivers' licenses and will pioneer a graduated license system.
"What is going to happen is that before you can get a learner's permit you have to do the road code test first and what this will do, it will ensure that motorists will be required to pass the road code test because what currently occurs is that you just go to the tax office and get a permit," Hare explained. He also pointed out that the Bill will ensure that motorcyclists are better regulated as currently they operate on a learner's permit indefinitely.