Sun | Mar 26, 2023

Letter of the Day | Road Traffic Act fails driving instructors

Published:Wednesday | February 8, 2023 | 1:05 AM


The new Road Traffic Act 2018 has been touted as a revolutionary tool designed to improve road safety in Jamaica. While much has been made about delinquent motorists waiting until the last minute to pay outstanding tickets, not much has been said about how ill-prepared our authorities were for its implementation. The child-seat débâcle is but one aspect of the act that underscores this point, but I submit two other areas for consideration.

The driving instructor industry is now in limbo. Effective February 1, 2023, all driving schools and driving instructors are required to be licensed to teach driving and included in a registry maintained by the Island Traffic Authority. The problem is that no such unit or department to manage this process exists. Simply put, every driving school and subsequent driving instructor were made illegal on February 1, 2023, as no such licence has been issued.

Until the act is amended, or a ministerial directive is given, no one is legally allowed to teach someone to drive in Jamaica, with fines amounting to nearly $100,000.00 for each infraction. So how does one learn to drive?

Second, the act is contradictory, as no one is permitted to teach another person to drive without holding a driving instructor’s licence (Section 168.1). However, Section 170 (3) speaks to ways in which one can obtain said licence, which include having prior experience being a driving instructor. Therein lies the conundrum. One needs an instructor licence to gain experience to become licensed; but to receive the licence, one must demonstrate that they have taught others before getting licensed. So how does one teach people to drive?

Can friends and family teach other friends and family to drive? The act defines a driving instructor as one who offers said services at a cost. Therefore, if one does not collect money for said services, are

they affected by this act? Should driving instructors now work for free until this has been sorted out?

If we are to become ‘the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business’, then this cannot be how we implement policies. An entire industry is not at a standstill and livelihoods affected based on

poor implementation. Simply put, we weren’t ready for this act and neither was the Government.

This cannot be the standard.