Black Immigrant Daily News
The Government has reversed itself on the requirement for children under 12 years old travelling on public transportation to use a child restraint system.
Minister of Transport Audley Shaw announced the changes to the recently enacted Road Traffic Act, 2018 during a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Shaw said, in the case of licensed public passenger cars or buses, children less than a year old will be allowed to travel while being restrained by an adult.
Children 1-3 years old are now allowed to travel with no restraint or be restrained by an adult. Those 3-6 years old may travel without restraint, restrained by an adult or a lap belt.
Additionally, children 6-9 years old will now be allowed to travel without restraint or they may do so with a lap belt. Children over 9 years old may travel without restraint, with a lap belt or a three-point seatbelt.
Minister of Transport and Mining Audley Shaw speaking in the House of Representatives on February 7. (Photo: JIS)
In licensed taxis and buses, children are allowed to travel without restraint but where a lap belt is available, it should be used. If a child is of the size to use an adult belt, this may be used if available. In all instances, the driver must wear a seatbelt, whether operating privately or as public passenger vehicles.
“Only children who are of the weight and size to use an adult seatbelt are permitted to travel in the front passenger seat,” said Shaw.
“In addition, where an adult is restraining a child, the adult should not be in the front. Children under one year old are to be restrained by an adult in all forms of transport,” the minister stressed.
He noted that the legislation seeks to mandate actions to protect children as best as possible from the effects of a collision.
“We are, however, aware that, in some cases, a compromise has to be made when the practical realities are taken into account.
“The realities of our public passenger transportation system and how it operates will place an undue burden on parents whose children need to travel in public transportation, whether accompanied by an adult or not,” Shaw added.
He told the House that a Regulation is to be inserted making reference to the type of child restraint required for the conveyance of children based on age and size in different types of vehicles.
As a result, the child seat requirement will be a table added to the 13th Schedule to set out what is required for different categories of vehicles based on the different age/size ranges and different types of restraints.
Shaw pointed to road fatality statistics, which show that on average, children under the age of 14 represent just under three per cent of the total number of fatalities in Jamaica over the last six years.
“Too many fatal collisions involve persons not using suitable restraints in their vehicles, although wearing a seatbelt is a simple action that can secure your own safety in an adverse event. Furthermore, children are often not properly secured, with reasons of cost and convenience being most often cited,” Shaw stated.
Notwithstanding this fact, he argued, “The risk of the inability to access transportation services may exceed the risk associated with travel without using a child restraint system, and in this regard, the rules applicable to public transport vehicles will have to be less stringent than those for private vehicles.