First offender liable for fine of not less than $7,500
May 26, 2002
Articles on traffic concerns
The passage of the seat belt law, according to Chief Traffic Officer, Senior Superintendent Fred Wilson, is a welcome development, which should have a direct impact on the reduction of serious injuries and fatalities in collisions.
Soon, operators of motor vehicles and persons seated in the front seat would be required by law to buckle up or risk specified monetary penalties.
If the person is a first offender they would be liable to a fine of not less than $7,500 nor more than $10,000, whereas those who recommit the offence would be liable to a fine amounting to that of not less than $10,000 and not more than $15,000.
The bill, Number Three of 2002, which amends Section Two of the principal act, that was passed into law at the last sitting of parliament and is now awaiting presidential assent, defines a seat belt and makes provision for the belts to be fitted onto vehicles which do not have them at present, or for them to have been already installed by manufacturers.
Motor vehicles using the country's roadways shall not be permitted to do so unless they are equipped with the appropriately fitted three-point seat belt assembly or other appropriate seat belt devices in conformity with the required provisions. According to the provisions under the act, every person who drives or rides in the front seat of a motor vehicle will have to wear a seat belt. Persons riding in any seat of a motor vehicle that is fitted with a seat belt must wear these or be themselves, on summary conviction, liable to a fine for non-compliance.
According to the act, it will also be a requirement of a driver conveying a child to have inserted in his vehicle an appropriate child restraint system and the driver is expected to see that the child utilises it.
However, certain categories of persons are to benefit from exemptions, including that of a child wearing or being conveyed in a child restraint system, a driver while he is performing a manoeuvre which includes reversing or a person holding a valid certificate of exemption issued by a registered medical practitioner on a special form approved by the minister and stamped by the prescribed authority.
Others exempted from the statutory provisions, according to the act, include persons riding in a vehicle being used by members of the law enforcement agencies, specifically for fire services, police purposes, prison duties, military services or other government enforcement services.
Further, other classes of drivers likely to be exempted from seat belt use are those operating vehicles constructed or adapted for the delivery of goods or mail to consumers or premises while they are carrying out their duties.
Seat belt requirements will also not be enforced in respect of persons operating or riding motor tractors, invalid carriages, motor cycles or trailers.
Any person found in contravention of the provisions of the act as it relates to the wearing of a seat belt would be considered to have committed a serious offence and would according to the act be liable on summary conviction.
The bill, once assented to, will come into force on such date and time as ordered by the Minister of Home Affairs in keeping with reasonably stipulated time limits to allow for full compliance.
The importation of seat belt components, Home Affairs Minister, Ronald Gajraj told parliament will enjoy duty-free concessions as a means of ensuring full compliance with legislated provisions.
The quality and standard of seat belt components will be monitored by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) to ensure that they meet the required safety levels.
While being unable to cite actual statistics to illustrate reductions in fatalities and injuries as a result of using seat belts, Wilson urged road users who qualify under the act to comply with the new legislation since it is for their benefit.
The traffic department, according Wilson, will monitor the use of the seat belts once the law is effected by use of routine traffic patrols. These patrols, he said, which are already being conducted to monitor other traffic laws would in addition be tasked with the responsibility of seeing that this new law is observed.
The provisions are also being welcomed by auto dealers who see them as assisting greatly in lifting safety standards relating to the use of motor vehicles on the roadways.