Ministry propose stiffer fines for seat belt breaches

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The Ministry of Works in conjunction with the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda and the Department of Legal Affairs are making representation for tougher laws to guard against speeding and the lack of seatbelt wearing while driving.

Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Works, Mr. Clarence E Pilgrim who also chairs the recently constituted National Road Safety Council, is proposing that the penalties for seatbelt wearing and speeding be brought in line with the penalties for using cell phones while driving.

The impetus for this change has stemmed from the recommendations made by the Socially Inclusive Road Safety Awareness Communications Consultancy under the Second Road Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (SRIRP).

The Project Implementation Management Unit (PIMU) is facilitating the consultancy which has already published a Situation Report on road safety in the twin island state.

People who use a cellphone while driving in Antigua and Barbuda currently face a fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00). In contrast, the fine for not wearing a seatbelt is one hundred and fifty dollars (150.00).

Permanent Secretary Pilgrim is of the opinion that turning a blind eye to the issue would be allowing Antiguans and Barbudans to continue putting their lives and the lives of others at risk while travelling on the national road network.

The PIMU and FRED Engineering, a Road Safety Consulting firm, teamed up and successfully conducted a seatbelt observation survey earlier this year. The survey revealed that only 50% of the one thousand four hundred and twenty-three (1, 423) drivers observed wore a seatbelt.  The same study also found that drivers of Government vehicles have the second lowest wearing rate of 38.9 %, well below that for drivers of private cars.

 

Mr. Pilgrim urges all drivers, especially those operating Government issued vehicles to make every effort to comply with the law and buckle up to avoid punitive action. The goal is to get to one hundred percent seatbelt compliance by 2030.  He stated.

 

“The proposed penalty revision requires section 13 of the vehicle and road Traffic (Enforcement and Administration) Act Cap. 461 to be amended and brought in line with the penalties for cellphone use.”

 

Having made the proposal, the Senate and the House of Representatives must give their nod of approval for the move to be ratified into national legislation.

 

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17 COMMENTS

  1. One time I was driving in town and I got a ticket for not wearing my seatbelt. The same time when the warden was writing the ticket one of the his friends drove by and he was not wearing his seatbelt. Rather than applying the law equally, the just hailed each other and the warden shouted “put on you seatbelt”.

    • Next time since the warden is not your friend be sure to wear your seatbelt. We are humans and have feelings and treat people differently based on our relationship with them. Be wise like a serpent and understand life. Don’t try to fight it because you will always eventually lose when it comes to nature.

  2. Typical government. Let’s add
    More rules because we clearly don’t have a problem that needs fixing. This is what we pay our policy people to justify thier jobs. Fix problems don’t make more problems or fix things that aren’t broken. Can you work on fixing the roads first so the pot holes won’t kill us.

  3. I’m confused! I MUST wear a seat belt, but four, five, six or more people can stand or sit in the bed of a truck and no one cares. If I don’t wear a seat belt and I get in an accident, who gets harmed? Me, only me. So why do you care? I make a decision and I pay the consequences, good or bad.

    • There is really no need for seatbelts in Antigua as the legal speed limits on various roads does not justify them. However, since the USA and other countries have seatbelt laws we have laws just like them. Seatbelts save thousands of lives a year in the USA. In Antigua it may save one or two, but a life is valuable regardless.

      Plus it is a good way for the government to generate revenue from unruly people.

      • Dear Bilbo
        I suggest you do some more research. At even 10 mph an in restrained occupant of a vehicle is at risk of serious head injury due to impact with the windscreen and other hard surfaces.
        Maybe you are superman , but for the rest of us, seatbelts make the difference between a minor accident and the emergency room, with potential long term consequences.

        • You need to do more research. There is a risk of serious head injury at 10mph indeed but it is so minimal that it is not considered. The probability of this happening does not warrant wearing a seatbelt. Just like most people who go running will not wear a helmet because even though they are running at 10mph and can get a head injury in a collision the chances of a serious head injury is too low to be worth the hassle.

          People don’t understand risk. Risk is ever present and you have to be reasonable when facing risk. If you think you are that unlucky to get a serious head impact from 10mph you should probably never leave your house as the road isn’t safe. The average human can walk 5mph and you don’t see them wearing any protective gear. Stay safe, and stay of the road.

    • Fair point, well made!

      Antigua has many laws that are in place because of external influence, but so many others that need to be adapted in order to truly make the country work. BUT… Having witnessed many accidents in Antigua, I for one will always wear my belt!

  4. I witnessed a pickup today with 8 people in the back being followed by a police car, the officers then thew KFC packets and drinks containers out of the window. Policing hahahaha

  5. How about giving tickets to all of those drivers in St.John’s,who do not completely stop at STOP SIGNS. They would do what is referred to as a Rolling Stop. They pull up at the sign mash brake and keep on going through the Sign. Ticket them and teach them a lesson.

    • Most of the stop signs don’t even meet the criteria of being a full stop intersection, and should be a ‘give way’ or ‘yield’ sign. I am guessing that either the American influence, or the fact STOP is cheaper has swayed the government.

  6. I’m a retired traffic police officer and I have seen some terrible things at the scene of road traffic accidents(rtA) one that’s a reoccurring night mare is picking the severed head of a 10year old girl off the road after going through the windscreen after a 20 mph crash. The fineds here are a joke in the UK driving on a cell phone you are band for driving for a year, I, went to the scene of a rtA where the driver killed 3children at a bus stop waiting to go to school, I wish I could show you the photos, please belt up and don’t use the phone, I beg you

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