Sun | Feb 16, 2020

St Catherine councillor wants English requirement to obtain driver’s licence removed

Published:Tuesday | January 21, 2020 | 4:56 PM
Councillor for the Waterford Division, Fenley Douglas - Ruddy Mathison photo

Ruddy Mathison, Gleaner Writer

A councillor in the St Catherine Municipal Corporation wants the government to amend the law to remove the requirement for persons to be able to read and write English so as to obtain a driver's licence.

Councillor for the Waterford Division Fenley Douglas argued that the law should be revisited because it is discriminatory and prejudicial to Jamaicans who can communicate in some English but who are unable to read or write it.

"Driving is a skill and whether a person is unable to read or write English does not hinder them from possessing that skill. Furthermore road signs are universal and are recognisable by everyone," said Douglas in an interview with The Gleaner.

"The fact that foreign nationals who don’t read and write English can obtain an international permit to drive in Jamaica and likewise a Jamaican to drive in another country where English is not spoken shows the disparity in the legislation," he continued.

"I don't see where the Chinese are prohibited from driving in Jamaica and yet the Jamaican citizen who is unable to read and write English is not permitted by law to obtain a licence. This must be addressed before the new road traffic law is legally binding," Douglas added.

According to the councillor, when he examined road crashes there is no data to suggest that these accidents were caused because persons who are unable to read or write English.

"In my view, most of these accidents occurred because of driving error on the part of drivers who are granted licences because they met the threshold of being able to read and write English."

Douglas is advocating for a system that focuses more on individual skill and the ability to recognise road signs.

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