Jamaica going to electronic ticketing

Jamaica’s police will be implementing an electronic traffic ticketing system early next year as it moves to improve the system of prosecution for road traffic offences.

The announcement was made at a National Road Safety Council meeting in New Kingston.

According to Deputy Super-intendent of Police DClaude Reynolds, of the police traffic headquarters, the electronic system will first be implemented on a pilot basis in Kingston and St. Catherine.

“It will cut out the paper work,” he said, adding that the system will also assist in the anti-corruption drive against some police personnel. “Once the ticket is written electronically, the officer cannot change anything with it.”

DSP Reynolds said several pieces of equipment have already arrived in the island and another shipment is expected soon.

Under the new system, traffic police personnel will be equipped with a hand-held electronic pad. A related system will be installed either on their motorbikes or in their motor cars. Mr. Reynolds explained that once the data are entered into the system, a copy of the entry will be printed and issued to the offender while the electronic information would be downloaded at a central location.

In the meantime, the National Road Safety Council has released new statistics indicating what it sees as a worrying increase in the number of road fatalities.

Up to Wednesday, 345 persons had been killed in road accidents. This is 39 more than the number of road fatalities up to December 13 last year. One hundred pedestrians, including 22 children, are among the road accident victims since January.

“For the last three years, we have seen a downward trend in the crash fatality rate but unfortunately for 2006, that trend has been reversed,” said Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council. “That’s of grave concern.”

Mrs. Fletcher also agitated for the amendments to the Road Traffic Act to be accelerated. The amendments will, among other things, allow the police to issue traffic tickets for careless, dangerous and reckless driving.

At present, those offences may only be prosecuted in the courts. But the police say they have been significantly challenged in locating the offenders to issue summonses after they are cited for the breaches.

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