The Cayman Islands plans to move to an electronic vehicle registration system that will improve government’s ability to enforce local traffic laws and to collect traffic fines, as well as monitor traffic patterns to help ease congestion, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts said last week.
Mr. Tibbetts said the new system will allow the Department of Vehicle and Drivers Licensing to create its own license plates for vehicles, as well as its own registration coupons to put in the windows of cars.
Both the plates and the coupons used under the electronic registration system are “tamper proof,” the minister said, meaning they will be ruined if individuals try to remove them.
“You cannot take those plates from where they are installed to put them on another car, like some people do now and create all kinds of havoc,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
Mr. Tibbetts also indicated that “monitors” would be placed throughout the country when the electronic tagging system is up and running. The monitors allow every vehicle that crosses over them to be tracked.
“We’re working with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. I know they need help,” the minister said. “Once the system is up and running, it means many less times the RCIPS [will] have to chase down a vehicle, because [the vehicle] can’t hide.”
The system is eventually expected to boost revenue from traffic tickets, although this will not occur in the near term because of difficulty in issuing citations to addresses. Cayman’s government postal system does not currently allow delivery to home addresses.
However, Minister Tibbetts said one of the benefits to the electronic vehicle registration system is that it can issue tickets automatically. “The enforcement ability of the RCIPS will be increased tremendously,” he said.
A number of countries and territories worldwide, from Bermuda, to South Africa, to Mexico have implemented electronic vehicle registration in some form or another.
Technology varies, but typically it involves mini-chips which emit UHF frequencies that are embedded in registration coupons and license plates.
The UHF chips communicate with devices installed along roadways and can communicate with hand-held readers – giving the users immediate information on who the vehicle is registered to, and whether their registration and car insurance is up-to-date.
The technology differs somewhat from many speed cameras on the market that typically work with closed circuit TV monitoring systems, similar to those Cayman has installed along public rights of way.
Speed cameras are now legal for use in Cayman, but they have never been installed to work with the CCTV system.
The CCTV system already has what are known as automatic number plate readers or ANPR cameras. These devices capture images of the license plates of vehicles on public rights of way.
The ANPRs are useful for tracking down individuals who may have been in an area at a time a crime was committed. However, using them to catch speeders or drivers who jump stoplights is unlikely, according to an analysis done by the 911 Emergency Centre in 2014.
Ministry of Home Affairs chief officer Wesley Howell has noted that while speed cameras are now legal under the Cayman Islands Traffic Law, issuing traffic tickets electronically would require legislative changes. “But it is possible with the technology that is on the market now,” he said.