By Andre Bagoo Monday, November 24 2014
THE STATE will soon be introducing compulsory micro-chips on licence plates which will enable the real-time tracking of vehicles, Minister of Transport Stephen Cadiz said yesterday.
At a ministry event held at the Queen’s Park Savannah to commemorate the United Nations World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Cadiz also announced consideration will be given to having special cycling zones or periods.
In an interview with Newsday, Cadiz said Radio-frequency identification (RFID) — wireless electromagnetic transmitters — will be mandatory on all cars under proposed legislation due to be debated in Parliament before the Christmas break.
“It is chip in your licence plate,” Cadiz said. “The chip in your licence plate will be picked up. There will be one in the front and one at the back of each car. What that will do is that it will allow the gantries to pick you up. From the time you go under a gantry it picks you up.
So if you steal a car in Port-of-Spain it will have the RFID and it will be clear which gantry you passed under and we can actually check and say where the car just passed. The gantries will be across the roads and there will be cameras. And what that will do is it will stem a lot of the car-stealing.”
PC Brent Batson, coordinator of the Police Road Safety Project Unit, said these chips will help officers identify the status of vehicles in real time and potentially allow storage of data such as insurance status.
Cadiz, in a feature address at the “Walk and Ride”, said the State will consider cycling zones. This, in the wake of the death of ex-national cyclist and coach Clinton Grant in March while training on a road shoulder.
“We will have cycling zones, however we do it, whether its on the Savannah, whether it is in Diego Martin, whether it is on the Arima area, San Fernando, wherever it is required, we will finally have cycling zones — working in conjunction with the regular road system,” Cadiz said.
The Minister, in his interview with Newsday, also noted the measures will join a suite of strategies.
“We are going to see real changes in the way in which we manage our road system and the way in which we manage driving,” Cadiz said. “And we are not only talking about driving under the influence, we are talking about a whole host of measures that we will be bringing to the Parliament.” For instance, he noted the plan for zero tolerance of alcohol. While it was last week reported that this would apply to all drivers, Cadiz said it will initially apply to juvenile or new drivers and drivers of hired vehicles.
“In the first year of getting your driver’s permit there will be zero tolerance,” Cadiz said. “You are not allowed to drink a drop your first year. We are also proposing zero tolerance with any driver who is driving a hired vehicle. And zero tolerance for juvenile drivers.”
The Minister continued, “We cannot continue to sit in this little iron cage — with however much horsepower beneath us — and think that we own the road. If people cannot understand what their responsibilities are on the road then we have to have the laws, the policing, we have to have all those to come together to ensure that if you cannot hear, you will definitely be feeling.”
On Saturday the Traffic and Highway Patrol Unit of the Police Service launched a DUI Traffic and Law Enforcement Task Force, which saw ten people arrested at Carenage.
“This task force will be deployed across the country to help give divisional support as well as have a greater impact on drunk driving,” Batson said. “With this task force you will have close to 20 breath technicians deployed so there is no shortage.” He also said there are plans for mandatory defensive driving and the plan for tickets for breaking red lights to be mailed was still in train. The measures date back to the tenure of former Minister Jack Warner.
Cadiz said there have been 137 fatalities for the year, the same as last year.