No escape for repeat traffic violators

Deputy prime minister and Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang says there will be no escape for repeat traffic offenders under the new digitised ticketing system that will see warrants being issued and served for every ticket.

Chang, who was making a statement in Parliament on Tuesday, noted that the previous traffic ticket management system (TTMS) failed to effectively enforce the traffic laws which led to indisciplined drivers continuing to carry out various breaches without repercussions.

“They know if they don’t pay, they are not held accountable, so they just don’t pay. Bear in mind, you only get demerit points when you pay. So they don’t pay the tax office, they don’t get a warrant so they get nothing against them except the ticket is there. That’s how the system was operating,” he said.

Chang noted, however, that under the new e-ticketing set to be launched on February 1, traffic offenders will have nowhere to hide from the law, warning that, “We know the numbers, we know the names. There is a quorum of about just under 3,000 repeat offenders. Some have 50 tickets or more. There is a crew operating [between St Catherine and] the Corporate Area, some have almost 1,000 tickets.”

He said with the newly instituted digitised system warrants will be printed.

“So that’s why we had to get the amendments to ensure that the electronic records will be a part of the records of the court and that the signature will also be electronically done. So in fact, if 500 tickets end up in court in February, those 500 tickets will have 500 warrants printed and the appropriate signature attached and the Traffic Enforcement Branch of the police will have the warrants to deliver and since they are known, they can easily be found,” he said.

According to Chang, the Major Technology Transformation Branch of national security ministry has led the process of transforming the TTMS into an end-to-end digitised ticketing system.

“This e-ticketing system is a fully integrated, modernised, mobile traffic ticketing system that supports all the agencies that are involved in traffic enforcement. This necessitated significant enhancement of the old system acquired in 2009 because it was sitting around being partially used, but the result of that partial implementation was that few motorists were held accountable,” Chang said.

He lamented that the failure of the existing traffic management system has resulted in hundreds of thousands of traffic tickets being in storerooms at the traffic courts.

“I think at one stage, we at the Ministry of National Security had assisted clearing about 240,000 [tickets] and I am told there are about 500,000 down there now [where] either warrants have not been issued or nothing has been done about them, which is what created the failure in the system,” he said.

Under the existing system, very little traffic tickets were adjudicated effectively and therefore there was a significant backlog, the minister added.

He said the existing system is more than 12 years old and therefore had to go through a process of enhancement, pointing out that it is expected that an appropriate system will be put in place to succeed this system “12 months down the road”.

He added that the Ministry of Justice will be looking at a new court management system that will complement this.

According to Chang, when the technical team examined the traffic ticketing system there were 21 points of failure, including data entry errors, scanning and uploading errors, late submission of unpaid traffic tickets to court “which is why over there years, the patience and the commitment to execute seemed to fail and it was easy to blame the police officers that they were not issuing tickets”.

Chang noted, however, that in 2022 the police issued 720,000 tickets.

He expressed hope that drivers will become sensitive to the efficiency and effectiveness of the new system and there will be less road abuse and therefore fewer tickets.

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