Tibbetts: Government to change Traffic Law
Speeding through an area marked as a school zone in the Cayman Islands could soon cost motorists their driver’s license, government officials confirmed last week.
The only question at this stage is how fast a driver must be traveling and how long they would lose their license, if convicted.
Currently, traffic regulations set a minimum $200 fine for speeding in a school zone.
The issue was discussed during Legislative Assembly’s debate of a private members’ motion filed by East End MLA Arden McLean which sought to suspend a driver’s license if a motorist was caught going 20 miles per hour or faster in a 15 mph school zone. Mr. McLean proposed suspension of the license for one year on a first offense.
“To my disgust, and [the disgust of] many of us in here, motorists continue to ignore those signs,” Mr. McLean said.
The East End representative said it is a safety issue for nearly every district on Grand Cayman, pointing out several areas, including Savannah Primary and Red Bay Primary schools, where a two-lane road passes through both zones.
“[Drivers] overtake you [in school zones],” he said. “They couldn’t care less whether it’s friend, foe or child on the side of the road.”
Other areas of concern, he said, include the “mess” on the lower end of Walkers Road where three schools, including John Gray High School, line the land side of the thoroughfare, and the “race track” by Clifton Hunter High School in North Side district where the 15 mph sign for the school zone is often ignored by drivers, some of whom travel 50 mph.
“I don’t know how there has not been a catastrophic incident there,” Mr. McLean said, referring to Clifton Hunter.
Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts, who has oversight responsibility for public roads, said proposed changes to both the local Traffic Law and Traffic Ticketing Regulations going to government’s legal drafting department this week seek to set far more stringent punishments for speeding in school zones.
Mr. Tibbetts said the initial proposal was that “anyone caught going twice the speed of the school zone [15 mph] would lose their license for up to six months.”
However, as a result of Mr. McLean’s motion, Mr. Tibbetts has asked legal drafters to reconsider whether the speed limit can be set lower than 30 mph for a “loss of license” offense, or if the time the license is suspended can be greater.
Mr. Tibbetts also said the National Roads Authority would also study some of the school zones to see whether they require more warning signs posted outside the lower speed zone itself.
“You shouldn’t just drive up and all of a sudden see these lights,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
The planning minister said he would also request that police “show a much greater presence in these areas” at peak traffic times and when school is opening or closing for the day.