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Stiffer penalties coming for mobile phone use while driving

Published:Friday | July 12, 2013 | 10:03 AM

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer



An amended Road Traffic Act is expected to tighten regulations and introduce stiffer penalties for the use of mobile phones while driving and in-car devices such as DVD players.




Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Dr Morais Guy, says the new legislation will ensure that road safety issues are addressed according to 21st century requirements.



Guy says the preparation of the new legislation is at an advanced stage and should be brought to Parliament during this fiscal year.



The Minister, who was addressing a National Road Safety Council awards ceremony yesterday, expressed particular concern about the use of cellular phones while driving, noting that this is a serious hazard.



He says cellular phone use creates some amount of distraction for drivers, which may cause crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities.



Guy is expressing his support for the re-testing of drivers who are repeat offenders.



He says the modernisation and reorganisation of the Island Traffic Authority will be fast tracked when the new Road Traffic Act is passed into law.



He says the act will correct anomalies between the Transport Authority and the Road Traffic acts such as stipulated passenger capacity for vehicles.



The new Act will also call for the certification of driving instructors and require that they teach an approved curriculum.



According to Guy, Jamaica’s development will be found woefully wanting if the country’s road safety practises are not intensified.



He says Jamaica’s limited health resources are negatively impacted each year as the country spends about $2 billion each year to care for victims of traffic crashes.



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