Thu | Dec 8, 2016

100,000 uninsured vehicles on the roads, says IAJ

Published:Saturday | November 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM

AT LEAST one out of every four drivers on the road is said to be operating a vehicle without insurance coverage.

A senior executive at the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ) is reporting that at least 100,000 vehicles on the nation's roads are uninsured.

Making a submission on Wednesday before a joint select committee of Parliament reviewing the Road Traffic Act, Karen Bhoorasingh, president of the IAJ, said more than 400,000 vehicles are currently operating on the roads, and that the insurance industry has only insured about 300,000 vehicles.

IAJ Vice-president Peter Levy said motorists who operate uninsured vehicles are putting themselves and other road users at grave risk.

"Our view is that the only way to protect the innocent road users is to remove a car without insurance from the road … ," he said.

At present, there is no provision in law that allows the authorities to remove an uninsured vehicle from the roads. Only a fine is imposed on persons who flout the law.

"We believe that driving without insurance should be regarded as a more serious offence than driving without a licence," Levy said, adding that driving without a licence is an administrative matter, while driving without insurance places members of the public at risk.

PUNISH PEDESTRIANS TOO

He suggested that the legislature should also craft a new provision in law which imposes a penalty on pedestrians whose "careless" actions result in motor-vehicle accidents.

"It is important for the law to recognise that they, too, can put other road users at risk," he said.

The IAJ also wants a provision in the new act to allow licensed insurance providers to access data of traffic-ticketing offences to assist these companies in making an informed decision in terms of risk assessment for the proposed insured. He suggested that this would act as a powerful enforcement mechanism and would allow the insurance companies to provide greater incentives to motorists who present a lower risk in terms of traffic offences.

Meanwhile, the Jamaica Association of Transport Owners (JATOO) and the National Democratic Movement (NDM) yesterday decried what they describe as outrageously high fines for some traffic offences.

Attorney-at-law Garth E. Lyttle, who made a submission on behalf of JATOO, said the imposition of fines amounting to $250,000 for dangerous and reckless driving would cause the prison population to skyrocket. He also complained about a fine of $45,000 for driving without insurance.

NDM President Peter Townsend argued that most of the provisions with significant fines were geared towards revenue collection and not about road safety.

While some committee members shot down the claim of high fines, others supported the positions that the penalties were too stringent.