Section 62 B (1) of that act states, “No person shall operate a motor vehicle unless the driver and any passenger in the front seat of the vehicle are adequately restrained by a seatbelt.”
A press release issued by the Traffic Department informs that the department recently conducted an exercise which saw 46 individuals being ticketed for failing to comply with this traffic regulation.
Head of the department, Inspector Cromwell Henry, while speaking with MiyVue.com, explained that the law was passed in Parliament on 12th December, 2008 and thereafter, was published and gazetted on 6th January 2009.
He explained that the one-year delay in enforcement of the law was necessary so as to “raise awareness and sensitise motorists of the importance and safety benefits of wearing seatbelts and also about the existence of the law. In addition to that we were awaiting the approval of regulations with respect to child restraint.
“I think people are sufficiently sensitives but I think people have been taking it for granted because there was no enforcement. So we are now at a point where we believe we should begin enforcement of this particular provision because of the benefits to both to the individual drivers and the health care system.”
The Inspector indicated that the penalty – on summary conviction – for failing to wear a seatbelt, was $100 but, following amendment of the law, it was increased by 900%.
“Sub-section 5 of the act, as amended by The Vehicles and Roads Traffic Amendment Act No. 15 of 2010 – which was passed on 25th November 2010 and gazetted on 10th December 2010 – states, “A person who acts in a manner contrary to this section commits an offence and is liable upon summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $1000.”
Henry advised that if a front-seat passenger fails to wear his/her seatbelt, any penalty would be on the shoulder of driver. He further advised that the enforcing officers can warn offenders, issue a ticket or summons them to appear before a court of law.
Speaking to the importance of seatbelt in promoting road safety, Henry said, “It reduces the chances of a person being seriously injured in a collision. Eight persons died in road accidents in St. Kitts. And in some instances, the drivers were actually thrown from the vehicle and the impact outside the vehicle contributed to their deaths. It is possible that these could have been avoided…”