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Opposition Leader proposes non-enforcement of child seat rule for PPVs

By Halshane Burke 

Opposition Leader Mark Golding is proposing that the requirement in the Road Traffic Act of a child seat to transport children not be enforced in relation to public passenger vehicles (PPVs).

The Opposition Leader says he will bring a private member's bill to Parliament on an amendment to the Road Traffic Act to exclude public passenger vehicles from the requirement of a child seat or restraint in the vehicles.

Owners and operators of public passenger vehicles have already deemed as impractical the requirement for taxis to have child seats.

Mr. Golding, in a social media post, admitted that legislators failed to see the impact of the requirement in the legislation. 

He, too, suggested that it would be "wholly impractical" in Jamaica's current context to require taxi and bus operators to provide child seats for children younger than 12. 

"The enforcement of this provision is going to cause no end of problems for the transportation of children in Jamaica and the police should desist from enforcing this rule as it relates to public passenger vehicles until the law is amended," he proposed. 

Child seats important 

But Assistant Commissioner of Police Gary McKenzie, head of the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, has defended the child restraint requirement, arguing that it is important to protect children.

ACP McKenzie said public passenger vehicles and vehicles contracted to transport children must be outfitted with child seats, if the young passengers cannot be properly secured by a seatbelt. 

"If each parent provides that then you will have it. If they do not, then that's a problem for you [the taxi operator] because if you transport the child without a child restraint system, a child that cannot be properly secured by a seatbelt, then you are the person that the police will prosecute," he warned. 

ACP McKenzie was addressing a meeting of taxi and bus operators in Port Maria, St. Mary.

If a child is being transported without being placed in a child seat, the driver of the vehicle will be liable for a fine of $5,000 and three demerit points.