Clampdown on motorists


By Andre Bagoo Tuesday, November 18 2014
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Australian High Commissioner Ross Tysoe, from left, Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz and Senior Supt Harrikrishen Balseo at the launch of the new road…

Australian High Commissioner Ross Tysoe, from left, Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz and Senior Supt Harrikrishen Balseo at the launch of the new road…

A ZERO-tolerance approach to alcohol in cars, mandatory seatbelts for all occupants of a vehicle, and a ban on unsupervised juvenile drivers during early morning hours were among some of the legislative proposals unveiled by Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz yesterday as part of a clampdown on dangerous driving on the nation’s road.

At a ministry function to launch a new road safety policy, the minister detailed provisions of the new Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Bill, 2014, which he is due to table in Parliament tomorrow.

“We will be clamping down, making sure the people on the road are, in fact, responsible,” Cadiz said at the event, held at the ministry’s offices at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain. “There will be zero tolerance of alcohol or any consumption of alcohol.”

Cadiz said under the legislative proposals, which are expected to be debated in Parliament in coming weeks, no driver will be allowed to consume alcohol or to man a vehicle while having alcohol within their system. This will mark a drastic change from the current breathalyser law which permits some degree of alcohol within the system.

“There will be no level that will be accepted,” Cadiz said. “There must be no alcohol in your system, you will not be allowed to drive a vehicle with any alcohol in your system whatsoever. This is also for anyone who drives a vehicle for hire, whether maxi-taxis, limo drivers, bus drivers.” The minister also said the mere presence of alcohol in a car will raise penalties.

“There cannot be an acceptable culture of dangerous driving,” Cadiz said. “We need to be responsible. Sometimes, people will be driving along the road and drinking a beer. No man, it is time to stop that. The new Act will have open container laws in it where there will be no alcohol within the driving compartment. It has to be in the trunk or not at all.”

The Transport Minister said he hoped to see a tightening of current measures for repeat offenders, such as a ban on persons facing a second drunk driving charge.

“I hope that magistrates will deal with drunk driving,” Cadiz said. “I also hope that we can do the same thing to chronic speeders. If you are charged with speeding you cannot be allowed to continue to drive because you are risking people’s lives.” He continued, “I know there will be a points system dealing with it that way, but I really and truly hope that we can really come down on people who drive and are in constant violation of the rules and regulations; that we can actually take them off the road because I think that is the only way that people are going to understand. After a second drunk driving charge, get off the road. You have no right being on the road.”

He said the law pertaining to seatbelts in cars, currently explicitly mandatory for the driver and front-seat passenger, will be made to cover all seats.

“Everybody has to be belted,” Cadiz said. “There are no if’s, no’s or but’s about it. That is something that we are going to be bringing in.”

New drivers or young drivers will not be allowed to drive between the hours of midnight and 5 am under proposals for regulations.

“We hope to be able to have new drivers restricted. And when I say new drivers, not just an 18-year-old, anybody who just got their driving permit will, between a certain time, for instance between 12 am and five am, not be allowed on the road without the presence of a sober adult,” Cadiz said.

These measures were announced in a month which has seen several instances of road carnage. Cadiz expressed relief that over the last weekend there were no reported road fatalities tied to reckless driving. He also said cyclists need their own lane, in light of recent incidents.

“They need to have a dedicated lane up until a certain time,” the minister said. Cadiz also said the State hopes to beef up the Crash Investigative Unit of the Police Service in an effort to better probe accidents.

“We need to determine what causes these accidents,” the minister said. “We need to know why in certain places there are accident/blank spots where there are always accidents.”

Of the new legislation he suggested the Government will exercise its discretion to pass the new law without reference to a committee.

“It looks as though we are actually going to be doing the debate on the floor so I ask all of you who are concerned with road safety to (go to) the ministry’s website, take a look at the Act and what is being presented. If there is any change needed we can actually do it on the floor of the Parliament,” Cadiz said. “I think it is a very good Act, I think it covers everything that we wanted to have covered, the amount of consultations that went into that Act. We spoke with all parties concerned. But there is always going to be a little tweaking here and there so please look at it and if there are any recommendations just send me a submission and we will see how it will work.”

Posted on November 18, 2014 in Local News

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