Top traffic cop welcomes regulations to rein in motorcyclists

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, August 24, 2017

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HEAD of the Jamaica Constabulary Force highway and traffic division Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Calvin Allen is welcoming the tougher regulations that are being proposed to rein in motorcyclists and reduce the recklessness and carnage among this category of road users.

“The motorcycle is the only engine-propelled vehicle on our roadway that doesn't come with any form of protective gear — cars and other vehicles come with seatbelts, airbags (etc). The motorcycle comes with nothing and that is why we support any additional measure that is going to result in greater safety and order on our roadway, [such as] the person compulsorily driving the motorcycle wearing a helmet,” SSP Allen outlined in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

He noted that the current road traffic law only allows the police to ticket people without helmets, but said this should go further to become a seizable offence.

SSP Allen was speaking against the background of measures discussed at a recent meeting of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, including a move to make it compulsory for motorcycles to be sold with safety devices such as helmets. Another proposal is a tax on the importation of motorcycles in order to decrease the number of motorcycles on the nation's roads.

The top traffic cop bemoaned the continued practice by many people of driving motorcycles without protective gear.

“For the past three to four years, Westmoreland, in particular, continues to lead in terms of the fatal count and most of those come from motorcyclists. These guys basically display absolutely no respect or regard for the rule of law.

“Several hundred motorcycles have been seized by the police across the island and particularly in Westmoreland, but tomorrow morning the owners just go and purchase a new one. They don't bother to come with any legitimate documents to claim or to go and have their motorcycles properly registered. Most of those that have been seized in the eastern end are motorcycles that are not registered — no insurance, nothing at all. They just purchase it from the dealer and start to drive,” he said.

SSP Allen emphasised, too, the inherent dangers of inexperienced and untrained people driving these vehicles, posing a danger to themselves and other road users.

“What the new Road Traffic Act has is a clear guide as to how you can go about this process. If you want to become a motorcycle driver, you will have to go through the same rigours as if you're applying for a regular driver's licence to drive a car,” he explained.

Other proposed regulatory changes include the reduction or removal of the import tax on helmets in order to encourage its use. Also, motorcyclists would be mandated to have their licence plates prominently displayed on their units.

The latest figures from the Road Safety Unit (RSU) show that since the start of the year, 225 people have died on the nation's roads, prompting the unit to renew the call for all road users to exercise greater care. Pedestrians, motorcyclists, passengers, and drivers of private motor vehicles have recorded the highest number of fatalities to date.

Sixty-nine of those who died were motorcyclists. Fifty-eight pedestrians were killed, nine were pedal cyclists, 11 pillion passengers, four passengers of public passenger vehicles, 27 private motor vehicle passengers, six drivers of commercial vehicles, two passengers of commercial motor vehicles, and 39 drivers of private motor vehicles.

“It is against that background that the unit is pleading with motorists to keep left while driving; not to overtake around corners and to drive within the posted speed limits,” the RSU stressed in its August 3 weekly crash report.




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