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Cell block


YVETTE BEST and RACHELLE AGARD

Cell block

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The days of motorists indiscriminately driving and using their cellphones are over.

Police will be cracking down on this illegal action and enforcing the amended road traffic legislation that prohibits such practice.

Public relations officer Acting Inspector Roland Cobbler yesterday confirmed they would be taking action against those who broke the new law, which began officially since December.

Among the new rules are:

No driving with a cellphone to ear and having a conversation.

No conversation on a cellphone speaker while driving.

No use of an earpiece or headset to have a cellphone conversation while driving.

Only conversations on cellphones connected to Bluetooth in a vehicle would be allowed.

Anyone caught breaking the law would be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of $2 000, jail for 18 months, or both.

Many Barbadians, as well as the Barbados Road Safety Association, in giving their immediate reaction to the measure, welcomed it, saying the devices had created too much distracted driving.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works Simone Rudder confirmed that the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act and Regulations 2017-26 was proclaimed on December 11 and published in the Official Gazette on December 28.

“I can say for certain that the act has been passed and is law now. As to when the law will be enforced, that is entirely up to the Royal Barbados Police Force,” she said.

The legislation will tackle not just dangerously distracted drivers, but also those who selfishly park in spaces designated for the disabled. Drivers breaking that law could face a fine of up to $3 000, or spend more than a year in jail.

Cobbler noted that previously, police had been speaking to drivers of the dangers of the practice during their routine patrols.

“The new amendments to the Road Traffic Regulations now prohibit the driving and operating of a vehicle while using a cellular phone. That amendment, under Section 148 (1), fully states that ‘no person should drive or operate a vehicle on a road or a highway while at the same time holding, manipulating, talking on or using a cellular telephone that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communication, electronic data, electronic mail or messages’,” he noted.

During his traffic report on Voice Of Barbados yesterday evening, Sergeant Seibert Johnson said he believed cellphones contributed to some of the collisions recorded in the island.

“Seventy-five per cent of our accidents last year were rear-on collisions, and there had to be a distraction somewhere. The use of cellphones is a distraction, and I believe the ministry saw it fit where they can introduce legislation which deals with it . . . . Persons shouldn’t drive and use cellular phones; I don’t have a problem with that. I’m sure that if you go to an international country you can’t, so we must adjust as well,” Johnson said.

He also spoke to the picture of a police officer using a cellphone while driving, which was circulated recently on social media.

“I don’t know how long ago it was taken, but I want to remind persons that certain agencies . . . under the law, regulation 148 and 148B, have [been] given permission to use communication networks of any kind, “he pointed out. 

As stated in the regulations, exemptions relate to “a person who is driving or operating an emergency vehicle while that person is acting within the scope of his employment, and the use of a communication device is required”. It added that “emergency vehicle” meant an ambulance, police vehicle, or a unit of the Barbados Defence Force, fire service, prison service or Department of Emergency Management. (YB/RA)

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