Road Traffic Act may be tweaked to address animals that cause crashes — Vaz

PARADISE, Westmoreland — Minister of Science, Energy, Telecommunications and Transport Daryl Vaz says the recently amended Road Traffic Act may be adjusted to include sanctions for owners of animals that cause road crashes.

While making the point that ridding the streets of animals will require collaboration between the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the minister said he does not believe any significant progress will be made until harsh sanctions are implemented to deal with owners. Thought is being given, he said, to legislation that will outline fines.

“Right now, we are still doing some tweaking to the Road Traffic Act and I think that this is something that we will have to look at to include because it is unacceptable for persons going about their lawful business to have to deal with accidents and loss of life because of irresponsible farm animal owners,” stated Vaz.

The new Road Traffic Act was rolled out on February 1.

On Wednesday, Vaz also pointed out that the Government has a responsibility to rid the streets of strays.

“Obviously it’s our duty and responsibility, if that is so [the animals are strays], to take them off of the streets and, of course, impound them until such time as they are claimed,” he said.

He said the issue will be discussed during a meeting he will have with the National Road Safety Council next week.

The minister was addressing the grand opening of Regency Petroleum Limited (RPL) Service Station located in Paradise, Westmoreland, on Wednesday.

During his presentation he stressed that getting road safety right must be a priority, and noted that it is currently a serious challenge, especially in Westmoreland and St Elizabeth.

The minister referenced recent statistics in which six people lost their lives in collisions with animals across Jamaica. Two such incidents took place in Little London, Westmoreland, and the other in St Elizabeth. Vaz said one of the victims was 11 years old.

On July 30, 21-year-old police constable Tajay Ebanks succumbed to injuries received when his service vehicle collided with a cow on the Little London main road.

Three days later, 22-year-old Christopher Samuels lost his life when the car he was travelling in collided with a cow on the same road.