DIRECTOR of the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) Kenute Hare is urging traffic cops to slap multiple charges on people transporting children unrestrained.
“Most traffic tickets are written for seat belt use; in light of the fact that schools will be open [Monday], I would like the St Catherine South Police Division and all the police in the Area Five Division to ramp up the enforcement, especially those involved in transporting children.
“We see parents have children roaming around on the back seat and, where possible, we would like a double whammy. Hit them with the Road Traffic Act Regulations and the Child Care and Protection Act and let us send a strong message to everyone who believe that transporting our children recklessly means we will give them solace,” said Hare during a virtual town hall meeting hosted by the St Catherine South Police Division on Sunday.
At the same time, he said the ITA intends to ramp up its spot-check activities with the constabulary this year.
Noting that already the country is seeing close to “one a day” in terms of road deaths since the start of 2023, Hare said Jamaica, which saw close to 500 road deaths in 2022, cannot afford to be complacent.
“We need to cut that out. A motor vehicle death is one of the biggest highway robberies ever because the nation loses the vital essence that persons were born to execute and basically sets back our country. Lots of funds are lost because of road deaths. It affects the gross domestic product (GDP),” Hare stated as he pointed out that road traffic deaths and injuries have cost Jamaica billions of dollars.
Last year there were 422 fatal collisions that resulted in 485 deaths, according to the police. Since the start of this year there have been four collisions and five deaths.
Under the current law, not every passenger in every seat in every class of vehicle must wear a seat belt, but the law sets out the vehicles that must be equipped.
The law requires anyone in the front or back of a car to wear a seat belt or appropriate restraint, if one is available. While the law implies that a motor vehicle shall not be used on the road unless it is equipped with seat belts, it clearly states, for example, that only the driver and the front seat passenger in a vehicle classified as a bus should wear seat belts.
For other vehicles and taxis, seat belts must be used at both the front and the back. A $2,500 fee currently applies for motorists who do not comply.
A person driving a motor vehicle without a seat belt installed can be charged with two offences, that is no seat belt and not wearing a seat belt. The operator of the vehicle can also be charged if a child is not wearing or being carried in a child restraint system. An adult passenger riding in a motor vehicle without wearing a seat belt if one is installed will be prosecuted.
Come February 1 this year, a new Road Traffic Act and Regulations will be operationalised which will carry far more stringent fines and penalties as well as new provisions.