Shaw urges calm as new traffic laws take effect
Minister of Transport and Mining, Audley Shaw

TRANSPORT Minister Audley Shaw has appealed to motorists not to panic as the new Road Traffic Act takes effect today, urging those with unpaid tickets to continue to make arrangements with the court to pay.

"We ask for the patience and the cooperation of the public as the new rules are brought into operation, and welcome feedback and discussion on how we can all work together for a better and safer road traffic environment. I want to assure every member of the public to remain calm. Demerit points will be expunged for persons who attend and make arrangements with the courts for the payment of their outstanding tickets up to today, January 31, 2023," he said in a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The period of reprieve granted to motorists to make payments for tickets that have been issued since February 2018, and to have demerit points expunged, expired on Tuesday, January 31.

He stressed that motorists who already started the process to pay their tickets can make their case on this basis before a judge, based on a clause in the Road Traffic Act. "Although we have indicated that the deadline is today, based on the fact that they have started the process from before the implementation date, those are things that can be looked at with the judge in terms of an appeal," he explained.

Furthermore, he noted that the Road Traffic Appeal Tribunal will also come into existence on February 1, comprising seven members, giving aggrieved motorists an avenue to appeal the decisions of the Island Traffic Authority (ITA).

Shaw noted that under the new law, in addition to their address, motor vehicle owners and holders of driver's licences will be obligated to provide updated contact information to the ITA, including e-mail addresses, "so that contact can be made readily in the event that a notice is to be served on the person for any reason under the Act. Notices may be traffic tickets, notices of suspension, or directives to bring vehicles for inspection".

Regarding key changes to the law, which will affect motorists, Shaw noted that drivers will be restricted to hands-free use of mobile phones while driving, or bluetooth earpieces. "Texting while driving is strictly prohibited," he stressed.

According to the transport minister, provision has also been made to detect offences remotely and issue tickets for breaches caught on camera, holding the owner of the vehicle liable, but the offence will not attract demerit points. However, the infrastructure and communication mechanisms are not yet in place.

"The speed limit regime is also being modified. A review of existing speed limit boundaries has been speed limit classifications are added, with 65 km/h zones now being put in place where warranted, and a reduced 30 km/h limit in school safety zones," he added.

Shaw warned motorcyclists that driving on one wheel, or what is called a wheelie, is prohibited; that motorcycle passengers are limited to one person; and learners must be accompanied by a licensed driver on another motorcycle within six metres.

Furthermore, new holders of provisional licences will not be able to apply for a driver's licence for a period of six months, but there will be an exemption to the six-month requirement for persons who received provisional licences under the old Road Traffic Act after August 1, 2022.

BY ALPHEA SUMNER Senior staff reporter

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