Obey the law to avoid paying fines were the strong sentiments expressed by Senator the Honourable Johnson Smith to the Senate on Friday, May 11.
In closing the debate in the Senate, Senator Johnson Smith argued that Jamaica needs a change to be more discipline on our roads and stated, “….We are encouraging people who want to say the fines are too high, to make that change. In fact, I have three words for them “Obey The Law”. If you obey the law you don’t have to pay any fines. So if you don’t want to pay the fines– obey the law.
The debate which has been ongoing in the Upper House since April 2018 saw amendments to several proposed penalties under the new Road Traffic Bill.
One of the amendments made was to the fine for drivers who travel without being in possession of a driver’s licence. Senator Johnson Smith stated that the initial fine of ten thousand ($10,000) was reduced to two thousand ($2,000) as a compromise recognizing that there would be no longer be a grace period to produce the license to the police.
Additional changes include the increase of the fine for not having a valid certificate of fitness from $10,000 to $15,000, as well as the doubling of fines and points for speeding in school and construction zones. The Act will also now allow for persons to pay for damage to road infrastructure they damage as a result of unsafe road practices. Johnson Smith said this was a great improvement as taxpayers have been paying for the carelessness of others.
Noting that public education on road safety had been ongoing for some time with limited results, the Senator observed that some drivers
apparently refuse to listen. She therefore remarked, “… to those drivers who feel that they can continue to prove that they are the wickedest and the baddest driver on the roads, I close with the old Jamaican adage, that many of us heard growing up “Who don’t hear, shall feel.”
Senator Johnson Smith expressed the hope that the prospects of higher fines along with their more effective enforcement which is also provided for in the Act, will prompt discipline among road users.