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No smooth sailing for prospective drivers

By Balford Henry Observer Senior Reporter henryr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 03, 2012    

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AMENDMENTS to the Road Traffic Act and its regulations, expected by the end of 2013, are likely to include a new system of granting driver's licences which could take as much as 18 months for the process to be completed.

According to Joan Wynter, Senior Policy Officer in the Ministry of Transport and Works, the process would start off with a six-month learner's permit, which will allow holders to drive during that process.

This will be followed by a one-year provisional driver's licence, which will allow the holder to drive under certain conditions, including restricted night hours and areas.

The final act is the issuing of a full driver's licence after the 18-month period, but there may be a requirement for re-testing at various stages after it has been granted, possibility at the expiration of the licence.

Learners who are taught by their parent's will also have to go through the process of utilising the services of a licensed driving instructor, for at least 10 lessons.

Miss Wynter explained that while the process gives consideration to parents teaching their children to drive, the process of registration would need to be certified by a registered instructor.

"We are relying on the integrity of the driving school instructors, and zero lessons (by a certified instructor) would compromise the whole system," she explained.

The Senate committee, which is chaired by Senator Navel Clarke (Government), has been focusing on the processing and qualifications required for an applicant to be successful in obtaining a valid driver's licence, as well as the flaws in the Act, the regulations and the system which can be exploited by unscrupulous persons to obtain illegal copies.

The committee, which has also been looking at the issuing of substitute or replacement licences which has risen from 300 annually to some 12,000 since the police had been removed from the process, is to make a report to the Senate soon.

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