Proceed with caution - MP deems ticketing of motorists who break certain traffic lights at late nights unfair

February 01, 2023

An opposition lawmaker yesterday urged the Government to take another look at the provision in the new Road Traffic Act that allows for persons to be prosecuted if they are detected by cameras breaking traffic lights.

South St Catherine representative Fitz Jackson noted that there are areas in Kingston and St Catherine where people are not inclined to stop late at nights due to the fear of being victims of crimes.

"There are certain sections of the country, especially in some of the urban areas -- in Kingston, in Spanish Town in Montego Bay-- nobody not stopping at 2 o'clock in the morning, and an electronic detection of an offence may very well be in place," Jackson said.

He said that the reality is compounded by the fact that persons who receive tickets for such offences may have to employ lawyers to defend them in court.

"That is unfair," said Jackson, who was part of the joint select committee that considered the bill which has since been passed into law. He said that he shares responsibility for the oversight.

"To tell ordinary Jamaicans, in light of the levels of crime and violence in the country, and some violent hotspots or areas that are clearly vulnerable ... to tell a Jamaican that they must stop there at 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, to wait on a traffic light to change when the rest of the place is deserted is a hard ask," Jackson said.

Transport Minister Audley Shaw, in a statement to the House of Representatives, noted that provision has been made in the new law for remote detection of offences. He said that tickets may be served for offences detected by cameras, and the owner of the vehicle will be held liable. The offences, however, will not attract demerit points.

South West St Andrew representative Angela Brown Burke suggested that the authorities use flashing amber lights at trouble spots at nights, thus removing the need for drivers to stop on red lights late at nights, even if the way is clear.

Shaw, in response, said that he will discuss the matter with the national security minister to see "what kind of realistic approach can be taken".

The new Road Traffic Act comes into effect today.

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