Is no U-turn for trucks applicable to other vehicles?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
On June 28, 2019, my 19- year-old daughter was driving a motor vehicle down Hope Road from Matilda’s Corner in the direction of Half-Way-Tree. Upon arriving at the intersection of Hope Road and Richings Avenue, she noted a road sign: ‘ Trucks – No U-turn’. She had travelled this route many times before, and she and many others had made U-turns to facilitate going back up Hope Road towards Matilda’s Corner. This sign, suggests that U turns are not allowed for trucks but are allowed for other vehicles may do so.
Having made the U-turn, she was pulled over by a police officer, who insisted that the U-turn was against the law. He issued a ticket for the alleged offence.
On July 19, 2019, she went to the St Andrew Traffic Court. When her name was called, the judge (a female) asked what her plea was. She said “not guilty”. The judge shouted at her, “How can you plead not guilty? U-turns are not allowed and are against the law.” The judge continued to berate her in a loud voice, saying that U-turns obstruct traffic.
Bullied to change plea
The judge did not give my daughter an opportunity to indicate the reason for her plea. She was bullied into changing her plea, then the judge went on to charge her the maximum fine of $5,000 and order two demerit points from her driver’s licence.
I have a few issues with what transpired:
1. If no U turn are allowed, based on a law which is clearly not being enforced, to the point where the Ministry of Transport has erected signs to direct which vehicles are prohibited, then what are the deciding factors for enforcement?
2. Road signs should be pursuant to the law. Therefore, what does this sign mean? Why is it there, if not supported by the Road Traffic Act?
3. I have a problem with the manner in which the judge spoke to my daughter, as if she did not have a right to plead not guilty. I sat on the outside of the courtroom and could hear the judge’s every word, as well as her accompanying tone and aggression. I feel that my daughter’s basic rights to be heard were trampled upon by the actions of this judge. This must be an abuse of power and process.
4. Litigants are customers in the courts, and therefore, the courtesy and quality of service meted out should be of a high standard.
I have heard a great deal recently about the revamping of the courts and their systems. This cannot be what the chief justice had in mind.