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Insurance Helpline | Wanted: radical reform of Island Traffic Authority

Published:Friday | August 26, 2016 | 12:00 AMCedric Stephens

Today's article is the concluding part of 'It matters how drivers position to turn' (August 7), and 'It matters how drivers position to turn! A rethink' (August 14). The official response to my written request for information from the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) director, Mr Ludlow Powell, was not available until August 25. Powell confirmed that the ITA undertakes "traffic regulatory functions". This is consistent with information posted on the authority's supervising ministry's website and also in keeping with one of the assumptions in my second piece. The functions of the ITA include "enforcing the provisions of the Road Traffic Act and of (the) regulations made thereunder, regulating and control(ling) traffic on roads".

My request was based on a question posed by max2uu@gmail.com. On December 15, 2015, she wrote that her car was in the middle lane on Half-Way Tree Road. She made a right turn on to Oxford Road. A collision occurred between her vehicle and another car that was in the right lane on Half-Way Tree (HWT)Road and was also turning right. Could the accident be settled "without insurance impact" to both parties in spite of her insurer's insistence that they had to pay because "there was only one turning light"? she asked. Nothing was said about the road markings or traffic lights.

The current road markings on Half-Way Tree Road that signal two lanes of traffic - the middle and right - can make right turns on to Oxford Road are WRONG, says the ITA official. They were done in error. The information that the National Works Agency (NWA) published in this newspaper on May 31, 2016 - 'Traffic Changes for Half-Way Tree-Oxford Road Intersection'! and also aired on radio, according to one informant, was also erroneous. The NWA, Powell also told me, has undertaken to correct the road markings in due course. In other words, right turns from Half-Way Tree Road on to Oxford Road will be only be lawful from the right lane.

What happens in the interim? I leave it to the legal minds to determine who is at fault when vehicles that are complying with the present road markings collide when both of them are turning right from Half-Way Tree Road on to Oxford Road. In the meantime, hallelujah! I am very relieved to learn that my 'traffic bible', Cliff Hylton's The Jamaican Driver's Guide, 51 years after it was first published, is still accurate on the subject of making right turns at road junctions.

The collision that is the subject of the three articles occurred nearly six months before present road markings were painted. This means that the driver of the vehicle in the middle lane was not permitted by the rules of the road to make a right turn on to Oxford Road when the collision took place. Only the driver in the right lane was permitted to do so; max2uu@gmail.com caused the collision.




Her insurers have the exclusive rights under the terms of their motor policy to settle the third party's claim. In other words, I completely agree with her insurer's decision to pay the other driver's claim.

Herb Cohen, in his excellent book, Negotiate This!, advises to never take no for a final answer. While this aphorism is useful in many situations, it cannot be applied in this accident given the passage of time that has elapsed since the accident occurred and what appears to be the minimal interaction between you and the other driver, plus the fact that both insurance companies have agreed that you are at fault. The pragmatic thing to do in this instance is to take your licks and move on.

Finally, the ITA, in tandem with NWA, the Road Safety Unit and other agencies of the State, have important roles to play in helping to keep us safe on the country's road network. In light of the imminent revamping of the Road Traffic Act and the carnage that takes place on the country's roads daily, coordination and communication between them are essential.

This does not appear to have happened in the case of the markings on the approach to the HWT-Oxford Road junction. Are the thousands of other road markings across the island reliable and free of errors? Reading between the lines, I also got the distinct impression that the ITA, like other government entities, is facing resource constraints. A former ITA head forecast in 2010 that the agency would have installed IT-driven diagnostic equipment to replace the subjective elements that are included in the testing of motor vehicles at examination depots. The upgrade has not taken place. Is this yet another example of some of the problems facing the ITA? Shouldn't radical reform of the authority be placed on the agenda?

- Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and advice about the management of risks and insurance. Email feedback to business@gleanerjm.com or aegis@flowja.com.