Thursday 26 November, 2020

Loop Road Rules: Pedestrian code of conduct in new Traffic Act

With road safety, as promoted by Loop News as part of our feature ‘Loop Road Rules’, being everybody’s business, the Director of the government Road Safety Unit is welcoming a provision in the new Road Traffic Act which he describes as the ‘pedestrian code of conduct’.

“One of the things I would like to say about the new Road Traffic Act is that for the first time there is a section dedicated to pedestrians. Basically, it is the pedestrian code of conduct,” Kenute Hare said during a recent interview with Loop News.

“It speaks to what is required of them in the traffic environment,” Hare explained.

This section of the new law addresses issues such as jaywalking, which has long been an offence in other countries including the United States, and pedestrians’ general use of the roadways.

The longstanding road safety advocate is encouraging Jamaicans to embrace the new law and to “take time out to read it.” Hare said this was important since a lot of the debate in the media around the new legislation centres on the increased fines.

“One of the things we need to tell our people is that you only get fined if you are in violation of the law,” Hare pointed out.

He pointed to another critical provision of the new road traffic act as the section that will expose drivers to what he calls a driving curriculum. He described it as “one that is designed to enhance traffic safety, one that is designed to empower drivers and road users to operate safely on the roads and to be aware of contemporary practices."

“One of the things that they will be exposed to is the whole matter of defensive driving. I’m certain that many persons who are driving on the road network have never been to a defensive driving school, have never been exposed to defensive driving. The curriculum will also make drivers aware of distractions in the traffic environment," Hare explained.

He further argued, “20 or 30 years ago, we didn’t have the cell phone driving with. Now there are many persons driving with their cell phone, many persons driving under the influence of text messaging, both of which are very dangerous. So persons will be exposed to that, persons will now know what the limits are, persons will also know how the brain operates and how the eyes operate."

Hare stressed that drivers must understand that the brain was not designed to do three or four things at the same time, and as such should remain focused at all times while operating on the road network in order to reduce the possibility of accidents.

He also welcomed the provision where the Island Traffic Authority will have the powers to issue and revoke drivers’ licences. Previously this was the domain of the court.

Motorists who accumulate between 10 and 13 points will have their licence suspended for six months. Those who accumulate 14 to 19 points will see their licence suspended for one year while those who accumulate more than 20 points will see their licence suspended for two years.

“I say to people that we can avoid all of this if we obey the law. We would prefer if nobody gets any ticket, we would prefer if nobody pays any fine,” Hare told Loop News.

“Obedience is better than sacrifice so we need to obey the law of the land that governs our operation and behavior on the roadway."

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