Since the Demerit Points System (DPS) went into effect in June 2020, law enforcement officers have issued close to 54,000 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) or tickets to errant drivers and traffic violators across the country.
Of this figure, 1,000 drivers are due to have their driving permits disqualified, while 60 motorists have been banned from sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle, with 10,629 drivers being warned about traffic violations and their behaviour on the roads.
The data was collected from June to December 22 by Transport Commissioner Clive Clarke, following the modernisation of the traffic ticketing system under the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act.
This new approach implemented by the Works and Transport Ministry has decriminalised a wide range of traffic offences into traffic violations.
Some of the improvements in the traffic ticketing system are the use of hand-held devices by law enforcement officers to issue tickets, a reduction in the backlog of pending cases before the traffic courts and a new platform for the payment of traffic fines, using a software called the U-Turn System.
When a traffic ticket is issued the information is transmitted to TTPost, the Judiciary and the T&T Police Service.
Providing a breakdown of the road violations, Clarke said a total of 53,802 FPNs (tickets) had been issued by licensing officers, police officers and traffic wardens since the implementation of the DPS in June.
Clarke was unable to tell if there has been an increase or decrease in road violations with this new system for this year when compared to 2019.
“It has been difficult to say if we have seen a decrease in tickets. It is too early yet. What we do know we have seen a major decrease in major accidents. We are seeing greater road enforcements.”
Since the launch of the U-Turn System, Clarke said law enforcement officers have cracked down on 60 drivers whose licenses have been disqualified under the DPS.
Clarke said while 60 drivers had their permits disqualified over 6,000 motorists have been reluctant to pay their tickets.
He said at least 80 per cent of these motorists were ticketed as a result of the illegal use of the Priority Bus Route (PBR).
The disqualification of a driving permit can range from six months to two years depending on the driver’s infractions and points accrued.
Clarke said traffic offences and violations carry prescribed demerit points which are documented on a driving permit recorded by the Licensing Authority.
Just seven demerit points can cause a new driver to lose his/her licence.
Using the PBR without a pass carries six demerit points and a $2,000 fine.
“When I left the office we had about 6,000 sanctions to be applied over the next two weeks.”
A sanction applies when a driver fails to pay his/her ticket for an offence committed.
Stating drivers give frivolous excuses when caught on the bus route, Clarke said:
“Some people think because of their profession that it’s a right to use the bus route. You find some of that happening with persons under (the ministry of) national security and also some persons in the medical field…they feel they have a right. Once you are caught on the bus route we have no choice but to follow the ambits of the law.”
Apart from being issued tickets, drivers are also warned by officers for breaking road laws.
“A number of drivers have been given warnings by officers,” Clarke said.
He said a total of 10,629 warnings had been recorded by law enforcement officers to date.
Repeated warnings can result in drivers being charged with a traffic offence/s.
Identifying the top ten road offences committed in 2020, Clarke said failure of a driver and any passenger 17 years and over to wear a seat belt while a vehicle is in motion was rated at number one, trailing behind was 749 drivers who were given tickets for not buckling up.
Exceeding the specified speed limit by ten to 20 kilometres per hour on the nation’s roads ranked third with 697 drivers being ticketed for this offence.
Fourth was 509 drivers who had breached traffic signs.
Driving while holding or using a cellphone had been committed by 458 motorists, while 353 drivers who were not authorised to use the Priority Bus Route were ticketed for this infringement.
291 drivers were caught exceeding the specified speed limit by 21 to 30 kilometres per hour. A total of 280 motorists were found to have no identification lights for the illumination of identification marks on a vehicle at night.
Under the offence “vehicle with defective fitting” 238 drivers were ticketed, while 214 motorists received a citation for using or causing to be used or permitting a person to use a motor vehicle or licenced trailer on a public road without a valid policy of insurance.
Precisely 213 drivers received tickets for improper overtaking on the left-hand side of the road.
Clarke said not using seatbelts, breach of traffic signs, unauthorised use of the PBR and exceeding the speed limit by ten to 20 kilometres per hour were reported to be the top four road traffic offences committed in the country this year.
These four infringements accounted for 23,651 tickets being issued.
Next year, Clarke promised a higher visibility of licensing officers on the PBR.
While Clarke admitted that fewer unauthorised drivers have been using the PBR, he said some motorists tend to driver beyond the 65 kmph speed limit which has resulted in several accidents and even death.
“What we have been seeing is that people are getting charged for using the bus route for even speeding.”
He said the police have been conducting speed traps on the PBR which we would see more of in the coming weeks.
Clarke said while the new system has been curbing a lot of road violations and traffic accidents people are still breaking the law.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan admitted when a driver accumulates points on his/her driving permits they would call him to have it removed from the system.
“Drivers are now realising when they breach the law the penalty will be much more than paying a ticket,” Sinanan said.