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Government gives in to pressure and changes the child safety seat rule

The government gives in to pressure and changes the child safety seat rule

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The government has said it would change the New Road Traffic Act restrictions regarding a vehicle restraint system for children under the age of 12 in response to mounting public outcry.

The announcement came hours after the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) said it would use some discretion when issuing tickets to drivers of public passenger vehicles who do not adhere to the requirement for child restraint systems. Prime Minister Andrew Holness made it during a hastily called press conference on Friday afternoon at Jamaica House.

“We have spent the last hour and a half in Cabinet looking through the existing situation with the provision for enforcement of a child restraint system in public passenger transportation, in itself,” Holness added.

He said, “We have determined that we would make certain adjustments to the legislation, and we will do it as swiftly as possible, in support of the stance established by the police and already articulated.

Such changes to the regulations, according to Holness, “may be made very swiftly by a ministerial instruction, which may not always need to go to Parliament, or if it does, as soon as feasible in Parliament.”

He acknowledged that more needs to be said about how safe public transit is.

According to Holness, “it will require a much larger discussion and maybe an adjustment to the legislation itself, not just to the regulation, but to the Act itself, which may happen in a month or two.”

Due to the fact that children and their parents have been denied access to taxis, there has been a need for the child restraint system to be reviewed. 

The new Road Traffic Act and Regulations, which go into effect in 2018, make such operators dread being penalized.

Drivers who carry children 12 years of age and under without using the proper child restraint devices are subject to a $5,000 fine under Section 73 of the law.

The Government promised to revisit the requirement next week on Thursday.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Gary McKenzie, who is in charge of the JCF’s Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB), stated in a video message on Friday afternoon that the police will use discretion when issuing citations in regard to that particular law. 

Because of this continuing assessment, he said, “the police will exercise its discretion in matters involving seatbelts and child restraint devices and will permit public passenger cars to operate as they did under the previous legislation up until that evaluation is finished.”

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