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New traffic bill tabled

By Balford Henry Observer senior reporter henryr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 06, 2014    

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INCREASED traffic penalties for breaching the road code is just one of the several new measures to be introduced into the Road Traffic Act.

Dr Morais Guy, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, on Wednesday tabled a new Road Traffic bill including several new provisions arising out of a comprehensive review of the Road Traffic Act, with the intention of bringing the Act in line with the realities of 2014 and beyond.

Dr Guy told the House of Representatives, as he made his contribution to the current sectoral debate, that the bill is one of the steps being taken by the ministry to address what happens on the roads.

"Several initiatives have been implemented with regard to treating with the number of road fatalities and crashes over the years. Notwithstanding, it has been widely accepted that major changes are needed to the decades-old Road Traffic Act of 1938," he told the House of Representatives.

Other amendments proposed in the bill include: mandatory training and certification of motor vehicle driving instructors; a longer period for holding a learner's permit with new conditions attached; curtailing the use of electronic hand-held devices, including cellular phones, while driving; and Increased powers for the Island Traffic Authority (ITA).

Dr Guy blamed the heavy work load of the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel (CPC) for the delay in completing the bill, which had been promised since 2012 but was only approved by cabinet for tabling in the House on Monday.

Dr Guy said that his ministry was also moving to tackle issues at the ITA's examination depots, as well as taking steps to address what happens on the roads once the vehicles leave the depots.

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