The Full Story
Phased implementation of the new Road Traffic Act, 2018 and the Road Traffic Regulations, 2022 is set to commence on February 1.
Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, in a statement on Monday (January 30), said the legislation aims to better regulate and promote safe use of Jamaica’s roadways.
“This, while at the same time, ensuring the safety of motorists, pedestrians, and other road users. Overall, the new law is aimed at ensuring that Jamaicans and visitors arrive alive,” he said.
Minister Chang said the new Act will be supported by an enhanced digital traffic ticket management system that will make it easier for law-enforcement officers to issue tickets for traffic offences.
As at December 2022, there were 45 Jamaicans with more than 500 outstanding traffic tickets and 1,173 others having between 100 and 499 outstanding tickets.
“This enhanced system will make it easier for drivers to keep track of their tickets and pay them in a timely manner. Motorists will now have 30 days to pay their tickets, which is more time than the 21 days in the previous law,” he informed.
The Government has moved to void more than one million traffic tickets issued before February 1, 2018, and to remove all demerit points assigned, as at January 31, 2023.
Additionally, 750 electronic traffic ticket system handheld devices and 750 printers have been procured. These are being distributed islandwide and will be operational on February 1.
The Act includes several provisions designed to enhance safety on the roads and deter persons from engaging in reckless and irresponsible behaviour.
Among these are increased penalties for failing to obey traffic signals, loud noises within silence zones, failing to wear a protective helmet. and failing to stop at pedestrian crossings.
It will also be an offence to use a handheld device while driving.
The Act will also have an updated demerit system that enables the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) to suspend a driver’s licence upon the accumulation of a specified number of demerit points.
Dr. Chang noted that motorcycle crashes account for the single largest number of fatalities on Jamaica’s roads, figuring in approximately 30 per cent of all deaths over the last two years.
Against this background, he said that under the new law, motorcyclists must undergo proper training and certification before they are allowed to traverse the country’s roads.
“Operating motorcycles with only a learner’s permit will no longer be permitted. A motorcyclist must have his protective helmet, and noise levels from bikes should be kept within the set limit,” the Minister informed, adding that the police will be working with motorcyclists over the next three months to ensure compliance.
Dr. Chang indicated, however, that motorists exhibiting good driving habits will be rewarded.
“If after 15 months, a driver has accumulated demerit points that are less than those required for a suspension of the licence, then the points will expire, and the record cleared,” he explained.
Another provision will ensure that owners of motor vehicles are held liable in relation to infractions committed by persons hired to operate these.
Additionally, electronic monitoring and enforcement are also slated to be rolled out some time this year.
This exercise will utilise inputs like JamaicaEye to assist in maintaining order on the roads.
“The Government has heard the cries of many Jamaicans who have been the victims of reckless drivers on our roads. Under this new law, we will restore the rule of law, order and decency on our roads. We urge compliance, and we ask all law-abiding citizens to support this new initiative, which is aimed at protecting us all,” Dr. Chang said.
The Minister, again, encourages motorists with outstanding tickets to clear these by January 31, 2023, noting that the courts will adjudicate on matters for those persons who have missed their assigned court date.
Persons are advised to email outstanding ticket results to firstname.lastname@example.org and where the courts have implemented a system to provide assistance.