A Closer Look at the New Road Traffic Act Jamaica 2023 and Other Road Traffic Regulations
The Road Traffic Act of 2018, which revoked and substituted the Road Traffic Act of 1938, comprises a set of road traffic regulations and provisions that oversee the utilization of vehicles on the roadways within Jamaica. In 2022, the Jamaican government added and amended several new laws, rules and regulations to the Act.
As of February 1st, 2023, all new regulations are now in effect, and drivers must abide by the new rules while operating a motor vehicle on public roads in Jamaica.
The new Act includes a lot of changes — too many to cover in a single blog post. However, we’re highlighting some of the most pertinent updates drivers need to be aware of, including updated electric detection systems, fines, demerits and more.
New Road Traffic Regulations and Amendments
One of the largest changes to note regarding the new regulations is how the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) will now identify traffic violations. As of February 1st, 2023, the ITA has begun using electronic detection devices to identify traffic violations such as speeding, disregarding traffic signals and operating vehicles without proper licenses, insurance or fitness certificates. This is mainly accomplished using cameras that have been placed on or near major roads.
Owners of vehicles caught committing offences by this new detention system will receive a notification and be issued a traffic ticket electronically. Electronic tickets are also the new norm during routine traffic stops. As of February 1st. 2023, print tickets will no longer be issued.
Furthermore, the electronic system will be able to promptly notify ITA officers about unpaid tickets. If the vehicle owner has accumulated a number of tickets without paying the fines, it may lead to an arrest or vehicle seizure.
Other Important Changes
Under the new Road Traffic Act, individuals with outstanding tickets will face limitations on transferring vehicle titles, renewing driver's licenses or making fitness and registration fee payments. Before the new changes went into effect, drivers with unpaid tickets were still able to carry out these transactions at the tax office. So, in order to complete any of the above, it’s important to deal with outstanding tickets first.
Fine amounts across several offences have been dramatically increased. Drivers determined to be in violation of certain traffic laws can expect to pay considerably larger fines. The list of updated amounts is exhaustive; however, here are a few offences that carry heftier fines:
- Driving without the required motor vehicle insurance coverage: $20,000.
- Driving a motor vehicle without being the holder of a permit or driver’s license: $40,000.
- Failure to obey the traffic light: $24,000.
- Failure to comply with traffic signs: $10,000.
- Failure to stop at a pedestrian crossing: $12,000.
Further, fine amounts across many other major and minor traffic offences have been increased. Here are a handful of examples:
- Failing to possess transport emergency cards and manifests while transporting hazardous materials, or neglecting to present these emergency cards and manifests upon request by a police officer or other authorized individuals will result in a penalty of $175,000. Further, carrying dangerous goods alongside passengers who are unqualified could result in an additional $25,000 fine.
- Driving an unregistered vehicle could result in a fine of $10,000.
- Motorists caught driving without a license could receive a fine of $10,000.
- Refusal to have a vehicle weighed or tested may result in a fine of $20,000.
- Refueling on petrol while the motor is running could fetch a fine of $4,000.
- Driving with no seatbelt or falling to have your passenger(s) wear their seatbelt, $2,000.
- Careless driving that causes an accident could result in a fine of $25,000.
- Careless driving with no accident results in a charge of $11,000.
- Driving 50 meters or less behind an emergency vehicle will impose a fine of $5,000.
For a comprehensive list of all fines and points losses under the New Road Traffic Act, visit the Jamaican Information Service website.
Beyond increased fines and charges, the new Act has updated how the demerit system works. Simply put, accumulating traffic tickets for various violations, such as speeding, will now lead to the loss of demerit points on the driver's license. However, if after a period of 15 months, a driver has lost less than the number of points necessary for license suspension, those points will automatically expire and the driver's record will be cleared.
Here’s a brief breakdown:
- Accumulating 10-14 demerit points over a 12-month period for speeding will result in either the suspension of the driver’s license and/or fines.
- Garnering 14-20 points will result in suspension of license and fines.
For road users in Jamaica, it’s essential to stay up-to-date on changing rules and regulations and to keep yourself protected with the proper motor vehicle insurance.
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