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  • Members of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament, which reviewed the new Road Traffic Act, have recommended the use of hands-free electronic devices while driving.
  • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, who opened debate on the committee’s report in the House of Representatives on June 9, said the devices must be affixed to the vehicle.
  • Dr. Guy noted also that persons, who have outstanding traffic fines, will have to pay these fees before their motor vehicle licences are renewed.

Members of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament, which reviewed the new Road Traffic Act, have recommended the use of hands-free electronic devices while driving.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, who opened debate on the committee’s report in the House of Representatives on June 9, said the devices must be affixed to the vehicle.

“Although there is still an element of distraction, this is the best compromise that we can make,” Dr. Guy told the House.

Turning to other provisions in the Bill, Dr. Guy informed that there will be increased fines for traffic offences.

“These increase fines are primarily construed from a safety perspective. One does not need to pay those fines, and how you do not pay those fines, is to not have an infraction,” he pointed out.

Dr. Guy noted also that persons, who have outstanding traffic fines, will have to pay these fees before their motor vehicle licences are renewed.

“Where the Island Traffic Authority has issued suspension notice, where the maximum points have been accumulated against a driver’s licence, then that driver’s licence will be suspended,” he said.

The Transport Minister also informed that the Bill seeks to create new classes of driver’s licence which will indicate the type of vehicles persons are allowed to drive.

The new Classes: A, B, and C cover private motorcycles, cars, trucks and other vehicles that are driven for hire or reward.

Dr. Guy explained that a Class A driver’s licence pertains to motorcycles, while a Class B licence entitles the holder to drive not for reward, trucks, motorcars (not being public passenger vehicles (PPV) or commercial vehicles) and vehicles specially modified for persons with disabilities.

The Class C driver’s licence entitles the holder to drive, whether for reward or otherwise, such category of motor vehicle, as may be prescribed and specified in the licence. He indicated that a PPV driver must be the holder of a Class C licence.

The Government took the decision to repeal the existing Road Traffic Act, promulgated in 1938, and replace it with a new Act that is in keeping with international best practices for road safety adopted for local conditions

“Many internationally accepted structures and accessories that conform to standards under the Vienna Convention are rendered illegal by the current laws,” Dr. Guy said.

He noted that issues surrounding the inadequacy of penalties and fines, as well as roadworthiness testing methods, have evolved over time, while measurements in relation to weight and distances need to be amended to be in line with the metric system used in Jamaica.

The debate on the Joint Select Committee Report was suspended until the next sitting of the House of Representatives.