Child seat law to be reviewed

February 03, 2023
Children, 12 years and under, are required to sit in safety seats while in motor vehicles.
Children, 12 years and under, are required to sit in safety seats while in motor vehicles.

The Government has committed to reviewing the requirement in the new Road Traffic Act for all children, age 12 and younger, to travel in car seats while in motor vehicles.

Under the new law, which came into effect on Wednesday, drivers face a fine of $5,000 if they fail to transport children in child restraint seats.

A media release from the Office of the Prime Minister said the Government will have deliberation on the matter at the next meeting of the Road Safety Council, which takes place next Thursday.

The new Road Traffic Act was passed by Parliament in 2018, and the accompanying regulations, which gives teeth to the law, was passed last year. It repealed and replaced the previous Road Traffic Act.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the continuous increase in road traffic deaths and injuries has been a major concern for his administration. He said the effective enforcement of the new Road Traffic Act "is essential to reducing the risk of fatalities and keeping vulnerable road users safe, including pedestrians, cyclists, children, elders and people with disabilities".

A record high 488 persons died as a result of 425 fatal crashes in 2022.

Opposition Leader Mark Golding said he will be tabling a Private Member's Bill in Parliament to address the provision relating to the need for child restraint seats. He said that "we, legislators, overlooked the impact of the section on the public transport system". He suggested that the police do not enforce that section of the law for public passenger vehicles until the law is amended.

Opposition spokesman on transport, Mikael Phillips, said the application of the provision to public passenger vehicles (PPV) is impractical and burdensome on taxi operators. He said although the provision was not new, it has never been enforced against public transport operators.

Head of the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary McKenzie, suggested it is unlikely that the measure will be strictly enforced.

"Parents can be properly fitted with seat belts when they are carrying very young ones, and other children who are independent can be secured by adjusted seat belts," McKenzie said.

"What we do not want is the practice where large numbers of children are bundled in vehicles, creating danger for the children or the general public," the senior cop added.

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