The new Traffic Act, which takes effect on 21 September, brings with it some 12 new regulations and a revised Road Code, which provides a comprehensive guide to the conduct of all road users, including pedestrians, animal riders, motor cyclists and cyclists.
The new Road Code has detailed information on how a person can use a mobile phone while driving, illustrates the correct way to maneuver around a roundabout and demonstrates what road signs mean. Some of the changes in the Act relate to traffic fines, the correct level of tint and a new categorisation of motor vehicles.
Deputy Premier Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly urged everyone to get a copy of the new Road Code.
"The updated Traffic Act, regulation and new Road Code apply to everyone who uses the road – both drivers and pedestrians. Everyone should familiarise themselves with the new provisions and understand what their rights are," Ms. O'Connor-Connolly stated.
The new Traffic Act now contains definitions of terms such as "electrically powered vehicle" and "mobile telephone". The definition of "motor vehicle" has been changed. Under the Traffic Act (2003 Revision), a motor vehicle was defined as any mechanically propelled vehicle manufactured or adapted for use on roads. This definition has been reworded to add electric vehicles that are intended for use on roads.
"This allows, for the first time in these islands, for electric vehicles to be registered, licensed and insured by eliminating the word 'motor’", the Deputy Premier explained.
Director of the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing David Dixon added, "There was a significant need to categorise the various types of vehicles to address the fee structure in the Traffic Regulations and to allow for the proper registration and licensing of electric vehicles. In addition, we have removed Group 5 from the driver’s license group in paragraph 4 relating to motor scooters, as these were best suited for the Group1 class of driver’s license."
Another significant change provides for police officers to issue tickets to persons who park in disabled parking spots, without the required blue 'Disabled Person Badge'.
There is also a change in the Regulations to ensure that driving instructors are properly licensed and regulated. But the Act will grandfather in current driving instructors, who will be subjected to testing from to time to time to determine their suitability to instruct students, Mr. Dixon said.
Under Traffic Ticket Regulations, 2012, traffic fines have been revised.
"For example, using a vehicle without registration plates was $25. This is now increased to $100. Failing to obey traffic signal/signs was $25 and will be increased to $200. The new offence of using a mobile telephone while operating a vehicle has been added to the regulations and carries a fine of $150," Mr. Dixon said.
Since the enactment of the 1973 Traffic Act, there have been some 15 amendments. The Road Code has not been published since 1974 and was long overdue for an update to take into account existing traffic conditions and road use, especially roundabouts.