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'Act to check fatalities'

NRSC happy with passage of Bill

BY SADE GARDNER
Observer writer
gardners@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, February 16, 2018

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Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), said he is optimistic that the new Road Traffic Act will help to reduce road fatalities and injuries.

The Act was passed by the Lower House in Parliament last Tuesday and carries stringent fines or even imprisonment for traffic offences.

The Road Traffic Bill will replace the current Road Traffic Act of 1938, sections of which have become outdated due to the technological developments in motor vehicle and road designs.

The Bill, which was tabled on September 9, 2016, was voted on unanimously.

Offences under the Bill include:

• Driving without required motor vehicle insurance coverage ($20,000);

• Driving a motor vehicle without being the holder of a permit or driver's licence ($40,000);

• Failure of driver to obey traffic light ($24,000);

• Loud noises within silence zones and failure to wear a protective helmet ($5,000);

• Failure to comply with traffic signs ($10,000); and,

• Failure to stop at pedestrian crossings ($12,000).

Since the start of this year, 37 deaths have been reported on the island's roadways. The figure is four fewer than the corresponding period last year. Three hundred and twenty people were reported killed in 2017. The figure is 59 fewer than the year before

The NRSC vice-chairman shared the thrust for this year.

“We are continuing with what we were doing last year, which is focusing on motorcycling. We noticed an increase in motorists who died between 2012 and 2016; the figure moved from 44 in 2012 to 109 in 2016. The focus continues and the public education continues. We are also pushing for the introduction of cameras into the system. It is our understanding that the system will come into stream in 2018,” said Dr Jones.

The NRSC also has a Slow Down all-island campaign and is partnering with John Hopkins University for a 'Gap Analysis' research paper this year.

Statistics from the Road Safety Unit reveal that the main causes of the crashes last year were excessive speeding, disobeying traffic signs/signals, swerving, failure to keep left, and following too closely or tailgating.

Dr Jones addressed the criticism in some quarters that the proposed heavy fines will encourage delinquent motorists to bribe their way out of a situation.

“Fines have to be at a certain level in terms of deterrence so people will think twice about breaking the law, otherwise they are of no use. Police corruption is a real issue. We intend to do what we can, since its a real-live issue, and you will hear about that in due time,” he said.

The National Road Safety Council was established in 1993 as a non-profit organisation by public and private sector interest groups. Its mandate is twofold: To develop and implement road safety promotional activites and conduct public education programmes and, to act as a lobby group for the promotion of road safety.

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