Motorists only allowed hands-free use of cell phones as of today Loop Jamaica

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Minister of Transport Audley Shaw has outlined some key changes that will be part of the new Road Traffic Act that takes effect today.

Under the new law, which aims to clean up the carnage on the nation’s roads, drivers are forbidden from using a cellular phone unless it is hands-free.

“Where vehicles are not equipped for full hands-free operation, the driver must use Bluetooth earpieces. Texting while driving is strictly prohibited,” Shaw said Tuesday while making a statement in the House of Representatives.

Other key changes outlined by the minister include:

-Drivers’ licences are now classified as class A, class B, and class C.

-There must be evidence that the road code test has been passed. A medical is required.

-Proof of identity and address, in addition to the fee, will be required to obtain a learner’s permit (formerly a provisional driver’s licence).

-To get a driver’s licence (class A or B), the prospective driver must demonstrate driving skills; yard and road tests will be required.

-To obtain a class C licence, commercial vehicle/mechanical knowledge, yard and road test, and a more comprehensive medical will be required.

Meanwhile, Shaw said that provision has been made for remote detection of offences. This means tickets may be issued for offences detected by cameras and the owner of the vehicle will be held liable. However, the offence will not attract demerit points.

“The regulatory framework is set out in the regulations and will permit deployment of this mode of operation as soon as the requisite infrastructure and communication mechanisms are established,” Shaw said.

After Opposition members raised concerns that there are certain crime-prone parts of the country, in particular parts of the Corporate Area, Spanish Town and Montego Bay where drivers are unlikely to stop at a red light at certain hours of the night or morning, Shaw said that issue will be looked at, while noting that the Government is not about to encourage lawlessness on the roads.

He agreed with a suggestion from the Member of Parliament for St Andrew South Western, Dr Angela Brown-Burke, that a flashing light at certain hours could indicate to a motorist that it is clear to proceed.

Shaw, like Brown-Burke, said he has observed this system in operation in other countries, suggesting it could be adopted in Jamaica.

And a crucial change in the new Road Traffic Act, 2018 will see a new, digitised, joined-up Traffic Ticket Monitoring System (TTMS). The modification means the various stakeholders – Tax Administration Jamaica, the courts, the Island Trafic Authority, and the Jamaica Constabulary Force – will each be able to access the system in real-time so that the existing gaps that cause deficiencies in the enforcement process and which plagued the old system, are addressed.

Shaw also noted that a review of the speed limit boundaries has been undertaken, and new boundaries that reflect the growth of communities and developed areas are included in the 12th schedule to the regulations. New 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, as defined in the 12th schedule.

He said new street signs are to be installed across the country.