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ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Announcement of 3000 traffic tickets issued since PSTEB laughable

Sunday, September 09, 2018

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Dear Editor,

There are few things in Jamaica that annoy me more than periodic announcements by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) of the number of traffic tickets issued for breaches of the Road Traffic Act.

Only an announcement by National Works Agency (NWA) of their intention to again place a veneer of asphalt on the countless potholes riddling the nation's roads has greater negative effects on my placid personality.

The most recent disclosure that over 3000 traffic tickets have been issued since the launch of its Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) on August 29, has left me suspended between laughter and annoyance.

I suspect the announcement is intended to convey how serious the police are about stemming motorists' disregard for rules governing use of the roads, but we all know that the mere issuing of tickets will not and has not had any major deterrent effects on bad driving habits.

I am willing to wager that upwards of 90 per cent of the tickets will not be paid or contested in the traffic court and absolutely nothing will happen to delinquent motorists as they continue to ignore the Road Traffic Act with impunity.

Instead of preening its feathers with announcements of the number of tickets issued, the JCF's effectiveness at traffic enforcement would be better displayed with statistics of the number of tickets paid, arrests and prosecution for non-payment and suspensions and revocations of licences for serial offenders.

The long-term objective should be a sustained reduction in number of tickets issued as a consequence of increased compliance with the law.

The government also needs to play a supportive role in restoring order to our roadways. The practice of a traffic ticket amnesty every five years is nothing short of farcical.

If the trend holds, the next amnesty will be in 2022 as the first was 2012 and the second 2017.

The 2017 amnesty was more farcical than that of 2012 as it covered unpaid traffic tickets from 2010, that is, tickets unpaid even after the 2012 amnesty. That is how serious our government is about reining in indiscipline on our roads.

We can take comfort in the fact that in 2017, the then minister of national security was better known for his comedic skills than his ability to formulate sound policies.

Hopefully Dr Horace Chang and Major-General Antony Anderson will demonstrate a more serious approach to public safety and traffic enforcement.

Wayne Plummer
wayne.r.plummer@gmail.com

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