Drivers whose cars are modified or are in poor working condition will have them seized by licensing officers soon. This, as Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma announced a crackdown on the nation’s roads. Sharma said cars unsuitable for the road were contributing to the high accident rate, which at the end of 2012 saw 35,000 collisions, with close to 200 people being killed. He said reckless driving and lack of respect for the law were alarming for such a small country as T&T.
Speaking at yesterday’s launch of the National Road Safety Awareness Campaign at Petrotrin Staff Club, Pointe-a-Pierre, Sharma said if further legislation was required to increase road safety, the Government would act accordingly. He said under the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, Transport Commissioner Reuben Cato can impound vehicles that were defective or did not conform to legal specifications.
“The transport commissioner already has the power under the act to seize motor vehicles when people soup up their vehicles. That is illegal. They have to get approval and we will be taking those cars off the road,” he said. He added that the courts had the power to suspend driver’s permits, and the transport commissioner also had the authority to do the same.
Providing more statistics, Sharma said the total amount of fines received by the judiciary in 2012 for traffic violations was $3 million, which he said was an indicator that too many people were not adhering to the law. He said: “We have to take steps to make sure that we bring to the attention of the national community that the Government, while it is going about educating, while we’re having these meetings and while we are trying to engage everyone, that if further legislation is required, we will do it.”
Sharma said there must be a proper approach and notice will be given first. “To take the vehicles off the road there must be some scientific approach…We just can’t go and tell drivers this is it,” he said. “We will tell them that it has come to our attention that this car has been souped up. “Or we may see a particular car speeding down the highway and on inspection we may realise this is not how it was when they bought it from the firm.
“We don’t want to take people by surprise. We don’t want to punish the national community, so we are saying co-operate with us. “It is illegal. Don’t do it. You are causing injury to yourself and you are causing injuries and pain to others.” Sharma said alcohol and cellphones were road-safety hazards.
He said: “We consume the most amount of Scotch in this country for our size. We drink the most beers, we have the most cellphones in the world for a small country. The statistics have shown that most people have more than two cell phones. “We don’t have the legislation just yet, but it’s coming,” Sharma warned.