While 90 per cent of the Traffic Act remains the same, there are significant changes to some sections, including the re-categorisation of vehicles to include electric cars and the regrouping of vehicles to distinguish between sedan, SUVs, Hummers and different trucks weights.
One of the major changes in the new Act is the removal of the word "motor" (vehicle) to allow for electric vehicles.
"The Traffic Act (2003 Revision) served this country well for several years, however, the time had come for an overhaul and enhancement to make the Act more reflective of the current traffic situation on our roads and to take into account the impact of today's technology," said Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for the Department of Vehicle & Drivers' Licensing Hon. Juliana O-Connor-Connolly.
"As a result of some major changes, there are now definitions of terms such as electrically powered vehicle and mobile telephone," she noted.
The new Act addresses two types of electric vehicles - regular - those that can exceed 30 mph, and Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSV) or Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) whose top speed is registered at 30 mph. NEVs are to be used only in speed zones of 30 mph or less. An "electrically powered vehicle" is capable of travelling in excess of 30 mph and is registered and licensed as an ordinary vehicle that has a combustible engine. In other words, there is no differentiation between an ordinary vehicle and an electrically powered vehicle.
Director of DVDL David Dixon said, "Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSV), or Neighbourhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) will only be able to operate in 25 mph zones throughout Little Cayman and on the Old West Bay Road, where the speed limit is expected to be reduced to 30 mph.
"If those vehicles were to operate within speed zones of 40 mph or 50 mph, they would be committing the offence of obstructing traffic while moving, contrary to Section 68 (i) and 93 (1) (q) Traffic Act, 2011. This section states, 'It is the duty of every person driving any kind of vehicle upon a road...to avoid obstructing other vehicles whether the vehicle under control is moving or stationary.' This is a traffic ticket-able offence under The Traffic Ticket Regulations, 2012," he added.
In addition to allowing electric cars to be licensed, all vehicles fees -- from inspection to annual licences -- have been increased. In some cases, vehicles have been categorised and grouped to allow for a fairer fee structure based on weight.
"A bigger car with a bigger seating capacity has more impact on the roads. So we adjusted the fees accordingly," Mr. Dixon said.
For instance, the licensing fee for regular sedans or cars not exceeding 2,500 cc or four seats has increased from $160 to $180 for 12 months. SUVs or vehicles exceeding 2,500 cc and not exceeding eight seats excluding the driver are now $200 per annum. Hummers have been classed into two categories -- there is a grouping for H1 Hummers, as distinct from all other types. H1 Hummers are $1000 and all other types are now $500 for one year's licensing.
The other significant change in the grouping is private trucks exceeding 4,000 lbs but not exceeding 8,500 lbs gross weight. These trucks annual licensing fee will now be $400 a year.
In addition, Group 5 was removed from the driver's licence group relating to motor scooters, as these were best suited for the Group 1 class of driver's license. Another significant change to the Act addresses Group 1A motor cycle licence.
"Regulation 8 of the Traffic Regulation now requires persons to produce to the examiner proof that they held a full Group 1 licence for a motor cycle of an engine capacity not exceeding 125 cc for a period not exceeding one year prior to their application. They must also successfully complete a basic rider-safety course approved by the Director. This is a change from the previous Act, which required a person to have a Group 1 licence for a period of two years before qualifying to upgrade to a Group 1A," Mr. Dixon explained.