St. Kitts – Nevis May Make Seat Belts Mandatory

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St. Kitts – Nevis Considers New Road Safety Laws

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
November 18, 2008 (CUOPM)

Amendments to the Vehicles and Road Traffic Act will make it mandatory for wearing seats belts and a three year jail term on conviction for causing death by dangerous driving.

The Vehicles and Road Traffic (Amendment) (Bill) 2008, which was introduced and given its first reading in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly on November 11th proposes several miscellaneous amendments including identifying the institution for registering taxis, tour buses and motor omnibus.

Clause 4 makes provision for persons who seek to register a public service vehicle other than a self”“ drive vehicle to apply in writing to the Tourism Authority in the case of a taxi or tour bus and to the Traffic Safety and Public Service Drivers Board in the case of a motor omnibus.

Clause 5 of the Bill increases the penalty for driving without a licence to a maximum of two thousand dollars. Additionally provision is made in that clause limiting the kinds of vehicles that may be driven by a learner driver for the purposes of obtaining driving instruction.

Clause 6 of the Bill provides among other things, that the qualification of a driving instructor must include the possession of a valid Class I driver’s licence. This Clause also goes into the prerequisites for obtaining such a licence.

Clause 7 prohibits a person under the age of seventeen years from being the holder of a licence classified as L.

A person shall not be granted a Class 1 driver’s license unless he (a) has passed an examination of competency and fitness to give instructions in the driving of a vehicle and (b) is the holder of a driver’s licence for a period of not less than four years, (c) has not during any part of the said four years been disqualified from driving and (d) has not been convicted of any of the offences of reckless or dangerous driving within the last 12 months.

A person holding a Class 1 driver’s licence is prohibited from giving driving instructions if his substantive driver’s licence has been suspended.

Clause 9 deals with the standard required for a breathalyser test.

Clause 10 of the Act sets a penalty for causing death by dangerous driving as three years imprisonment on conviction on indictment.

Clause 11 addresses some procedural matters for police officers when stopping a vehicle.

Clause 12 of the Bill sets a specific standard for vehicles the glass of which has been tinted and which allows a minimum of 65 percent of light transmission whether the glass has been custom tinted by the manufacturer itself or applied by another person. A person who contravenes the provisions of this section commits an offence and is liable to a fine of EC$5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of six months or both such fine and imprisonment.

It also makes it mandatory for the driver and front seat passengers of vehicles to wear seat belts. Motor vehicles manufactured before January 1st 1990, buses, authorised emergency vehicles and trucks with a maximum gross weight of 18,000 pounds or more are excluded.

A passenger under the age of 12 or weighing less than 40 pounds shall wear a seat belt or restrained in a specially designed detachable or removable seat. Contravention of the seat belt law attracts a fine of EC$100 for the first offence and EC$200 for a second or subsequent offence.

Minister of Public Works, Utilities, Posts and Transport, Dr. the Hon. Earl Asim Martin, introduced the bill last week. Copies are available at the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS), Government Headquarters, Church Street, in Basseterre.

The bill is also available on the Prime Minister’s Website at www.cuopm.com/bills.asp.

In keeping with government’s policy of accountability and good governance, the period between the first reading and the second reading, allows individuals and interest groups to peruse the draft legislation and submit comments and suggestions to the relevant ministry or the Legal Department in the Office of the Attorney General.

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