Attorney General

Promoting safer roads: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, left, speaks with Minister of Works and Transport Rohan Sinanan and Sharon Inglefield, president of Arrive Alive, at the launch of the ministry’s “U-Turn” system at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel, Port of Spain, yesterday. 

Errant drivers beware.

Come March 2, if you drive while drunk, text and drive, park indiscriminately or commit any ­other road traffic offences, you will ­­receive demerit points on your ­driving record.

Accumulate too many demerit points within a three-year period and you can have your driver’s permit suspended for up to two years.

If your permit is suspended, you will have to undergo a rehabilitation programme before it is reinstated.

Additionally, if you break a red light without a traffic officer noticing, don’t think you got away.

Your ticket will be delivered to you in the mail, thanks to red light camera enforcement systems and a partnership with TTPost.

These are just a few of the features of the Ministry of Works and Transport’s new “U-Turn” system.

The U-turn management system was launched yesterday during a ceremony at the Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, and will come into effect on March 2.

The system is being managed by the newly-established Traffic Enforcement Centre (TEC).

Less burden on judiciary

Under the new system, a number of traffic offences have been decriminalised and sanctions introduced for non-payment of tickets as opposed to possible imprisonment.

Drivers will no longer have to visit magistrates’ courts to pay their fines, as they can do so via cash or Linx at select TTPost offices, with an online payment system being envisioned for the near future.

Speaking at the launch, director of the ministry’s Legal Services Unit, Marvin Gonzales, said the new system will not only result in safer roads, but also reduce the burden on the judiciary in dealing with ­traffic offence cases. “The reality is that hundreds of thousands of traffic cases go before the courts due to the non-payment of tickets by ­errant drivers,” Gonzales said.

“Thousands of lost man hours are spent by police officers, traffic wardens officers, as well as court staff in dealing with those matters on a daily basis, whilst the wheels of justice grind slowly and citizens suffer as a result of the pace at which justice is delivered in our courts.

“Under the U-Turn system, the courts are now relieved of the administrative burden of facilitating ticket payments, as well as having to cope with an average of 100,000 new case filings annually as a result of the outdated ticketing system,” he added.

With the new traffic ticketing system, drivers need only go to court to contest a ticket they believe was issued wrongfully.

Gonzales added a suite of online services will be rolling out shortly, where citizens can conduct simple transactions with the Licensing Division without having to take time off work or “pay a bribe”.

Speaking with reporters following the event, Gonzales said the U-Turn management system cost an estimated $9 million, inclusive of training of staff at the judiciary, ­Police Service, Licensing Division and TTPost. This cost does not ­include the camera systems to be ­installed across the country.

Gonzales said the ministry is now in the process of acquiring ­additional multi-functional cameras to detect speeding and red-light ­violations.

Leg­is­la­tion per­tain­ing to the “spot speed” cameras is cur­rent­ly be­fore the Par­lia­ment and is expected to be fi­nalised with­in a month. Once this is done, the systems will be installed nationwide.

Speaking at the launch, Works and Transport Minister Rohan ­Sinanan lamented the lives lost in road traffic accidents recently.

He said while road traffic deaths have decreased considerably, the ministry’s aim is to reduce this number to zero.

The launch of the U-Turn system would aid in this goal and the public can look forward to even more ­initiatives to be rolled out in the coming months, he said.

This includes a mobile bus service to bring licensing services into rural communities, a disabled-­accessible parking system, new laws to address vehicle tinting, the introduction of drugalisers and radio-­frequency identification (RFID) tags for licence plates to be able to track and identify vehicles.

Eyes everywhere

“All of these initiatives have one common purpose—building a sustainable society around the ideals of safety, security, greater service to the public, further access to opportunities and a higher standard of living for all,” Sinanan said.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who was present, noted the recent decriminalisation of marijuana has removed thousands of cases from the judicial system, and the new traffic system will ease the backlog even further. He added the traffic system will also aid in the fight against crime.

“We now have eyes everywhere,” Al-Rawi said.

“Hardly ever we see persons making their getaway on a donkey cart, horse or skateboard. Usually it involves a car. It means that with RFID tags, with spot speeds and with cameras, we now have digital evidence of number plates, owner, location, time and therefore evidence in a court of law for serious crime... today is also about tackling the number one issue of crime in our country.”

The new system has met the approval of Sharon Inglefield, president of road safety advocacy group Arrive Alive.

Inglefield said yesterday the system will transform the behaviour of road users, once fully implemented and enforced.

“Once we continue to do our jobs, to remain absolutely transparent and honest, it will change the mindset of drivers, some of whom and up to now truly believe they are above the law. The new system will ensure that errant drivers will be retrained by rehabilitative driver education,” she said.

Detailed information on the new system, including a list of fines and demerit points applicable to various offences, can be viewed at ­drivingtt.com.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU