Opposition Welcomes Provisions of Road Traffic Act

Photo: JIS Photographer Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Morais Guy. (File)

Story Highlights

  • Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Morais Guy is welcoming the provisions of the new Road Traffic Act, which is now before the House of Representatives.
  • In his contribution to the debate yesterday (October 18), Dr. Guy welcomed Clause 23 of the Bill, which speaks to the necessity of an applicant successfully completing the prescribed Road Code test before being eligible to be granted a learner’s licence.
  • Additionally, as part of the attempt to improve the education and experience of the driver, Clause 26 (1) (a) makes it mandatory for the holder of a learner’s permit to have it for at least six months before he or she can obtain the certificate of competence/licence.

Opposition Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr. Morais Guy is welcoming the provisions of the new Road Traffic Act, which is now before the House of Representatives.

The updated law will repeal and replace the existing 1938 Act and will establish new offences as well as provide increased penalties for current wrongdoings.

The legislation was passed last November and should have gone before the Senate; however, with the dissolution of Parliament ahead of the February General Election, the Act, among other items, fell off the legislative agenda.

Minister of Transport and Mining, Hon. Mike Henry, opened the debate on the Bill in September 2016.

In his contribution to the debate yesterday (October 18), Dr. Guy welcomed Clause 23 of the Bill, which speaks to the necessity of an applicant successfully completing the prescribed Road Code test before being eligible to be granted a learner’s licence.

He said currently, persons visit the collectorate to purchase a learner’s permit without any knowledge of the road code.

“(This) allows him to be driving a motor vehicle, albeit under the supervision of the instructor, on a road without knowing the code of the road. Further, at present, that instructor could be anyone, even someone who would have obtained his licence the day before and is inexperienced to be teaching,” Dr. Guy said.

He noted that Clause 24 of the Bill requires that “the holder of the learner’s permit shall be accompanied at all times while driving by a person, who is the holder of a driver’s licence for not less than three years.”

Dr. Guy also welcomed the provision that a person can only ride a motor bike with a learner’s permit if he is accompanied by a licensed rider.

He noted that, currently, an individual could opt to buy a learner’s permit to ride a motorcycle legally, without any form of supervision “as long as he wants and as long as he is prepared to renew this learners and this can be for his entire life”.

“So, therefore, with this new legislation, the only persons who should be seen driving a motor bike alone would have to be a licensed driver and for that to happen he will have had to have the permit for at least six months before he could apply for a Class ‘A’ driver’s licence,” Dr. Guy said.

“It is hoped (the changes in the law) will reduce the number of deaths that have occurred as a consequence of motor-bike crashes,” he said.

Additionally, as part of the attempt to improve the education and experience of the driver, Clause 26 (1) (a) makes it mandatory for the holder of a learner’s permit to have it for at least six months before he or she can obtain the certificate of competence/licence.

“This closes that loophole where currently, I can apply for a learner’s permit today and go for my driver’s test next week. Clause 27 also has an additional safeguard for safety on the road from the new driver. No person granted a driver’s licence shall exceed the limit of 80 km/hr during the first 12 months of licence, even on the East-West toll road where the speed limit is 110km/hr,” Dr. Guy said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Guy cited the need for legislation to be introduced to facilitate the electronic monitoring of the nation’s roadways through installation of speeding and intersection cameras.

“This is an area the Minister may need to look at down the road after the passage of the new Bill and further with the National Works Agency beefing up its fibre-optic capacity around the city, the infrastructure to mount this would be already in place,” he said.

Debate on the Bill will continue in the Lower House next week Tuesday.

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