Ticketed cabbies rue luck on first day of new traffic era
Maxfield-to-downtown Kingston taxi operator John Hanson cursed his luck as he received his first traffic ticket of the year on Wednesday – the dawn of tougher penalties as the new Road Traffic Act came into effect.
Hanson may have to pay $10,000 for failing to stop or observe provisions of a pedestrian crossing on Hagley Park Road in St Andrew.
Unlike many of his transport industry colleagues who bombarded traffic courts in a bid to settle outstanding tickets by January 31, Hanson said he had always ensured that he paid his penalty notices on time and in full.
But feeling targeted because of his profession, Hanson vowed to contest the ticket in court, arguing that he was forced to come to a halt at that point because the police had stopped another motorist ahead of him.
Another transport operator who gave his name only as Andrew acknowledged that he was correctly admonished for an infraction. Andrew said that he was stopped by cops in Half-Way Tree Wednesday for obstructing traffic while trying to pick up a passenger. He received a $5,000 ticket.
That’s one more grain of sand to add to the mountain of 100-plus outstanding tickets Andrew is currently awaiting a court date to settle before a judge.
The taxi driver, who operates on the Cross Roads to downtown Kingston route, however, does not believe that the higher fines under the new law will deter him from breaking the law. He said that the amassing of tickets is an occupational hazard of public transport.
“If we follow di rules dem weh dem set, we nah go make no money,” he told The Gleaner.
In downtown Kingston, a visibly upset Ricardo Plummer protested a $2,500 ticket he was being issued for making an illegal U-turn on Orange Street.
The 38-year-old said he made the turn because there was no signage that prohibited that action.
Plummer said he had 40 outstanding tickets and was given a March 3 court date to face the court.
Although admitting that he was anxious about the increased fines under the new law, he does not think it will fix what he described as a broken system.
The cabbie, who transports passengers between downtown Kingston and Windward Road, complains that he and his colleagues do not have adequate space to park their vehicles.
“It really a put we inna a dilemma ... . We nuh have nowhere fi park. Taxi man don’t have no parking stand. You deh yah suh, you have to a t’ief passenger,” Plummer said.
“You get your road licence and dem give space say you supposed to park round there suh. When you go road there suh, it’s yellow paint – no parking,” he lamented.
The Government opened a 48-day window last December, amnestying motorists from all tickets prior to February 1, 2018. They were, however, mandated to face the courts to pay fines or challenge the allegations of other outstanding penalty notices.
Compliant motorists would also have all demerit points expunged by the January 31, 2023, deadline.
The new act may yield positives for two business operators in Half-Way Tree who are anticipating an increase in the sales of cell phone mounts and Bluetooth devices.
Under the new Road Traffic Act, motorists caught handling a cell phone while driving will be fined $10,000.
Damion Chong, a sales rep at Electro World in Mall Plaza, says persons have already started enquiring about the devices.
“I think people are going to be buying some more,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rochell Jarrett, manager of Quantum Concepts in Village Plaza, said that she, too, is looking forward to a bump in sales.
“We don’t only have the Bluetooth headphones. We have the transmitter that you put in your car and connect to your phone to answer a call,” she said, adding that prices range from $2,500 to $4,500.