The new Road Traffic Regulations were passed into law on February 1, 2023. There have been stormy debates about some of the changes and the fines for particular violations. The document is 381 pages long and I suspect that many of the public commentators have either not seen or cared to have a careful look. So the rumors and lies abound – you can no longer teach your child to drive or you can no longer tow a vehicle.
This post is an attempt to guide individual and fleet truck operators on some of the immediate and future changes that will affect their operations on the road. It is not a discussion on the merits or demerits of the law, the significance of the new fines or even the utility of the new law. This is my disclaimer:
– I am not a lawyer and I am not attempting to give legal guidance of advice.
– I have not attempted to address all sections of the Regulations
The Road Traffic Act and the Road Traffic Regulations 2022 are available freely online. Many of the items mentioned below may have been in the old regulations. These are the top 20 things that I think should be known.
1. A motor vehicle must have a working speedometer which is visible to the driver (Section 54). This could be a serious challenge to owners of many older trucks, or even newer Japanese imports where the entire dashboard assembly may need to be replaced.
2. A motor vehicle must have a working odometer (Section 55).
3. Each tyre must have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm (Section 56). This is the same tread depth which is allowed in the US. The permitted repairs on tyres is also detailed in Section 56.
4. Trucks must be fitted with mudguards (Section 59). This was a part of the previous law.
5. Trucks must have rear and side underrun protection (Section 60). These are illustrated below.
The basic purpose of the rear underrun protective device is to minimize injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle (especially passenger car) in the case of a rear end collision with the truck or trailer. The side underrun device is designed to stop cyclists, motorcyclists, low vehicles and other road users falling, sliding or driving underneath the truck or trailer and being run over by the rear wheels.
6. Tints cannot extend more than 15 cm from the top of the windshield (section 62).
7. A vehicle must have reverse lamps. These must be automatic and do not depend on the driver to switch them on or off (Section 99). A backup alarm is not required.
8. All vehicle must have on board emergency warning signs (Section 262). These are illustrated below. Bushes in the road are good, but reflectorized warnings are better.
9. A trailer cannot be used to tow a disabled vehicle (Section 249-3).
10. No towing (except by tow truck) is allowed on any Toll road (section 249-4).
11. Use of amber flashing or revolving lights. These may be used on articulated vehicles (not mandatory) and on disabled vehicles, vehicles piloting another vehicle and on garbage trucks. Their use on dump and other trucks and on pickup trucks may be a violation.
12 Many vehicles will require Special Permits to operate legally. The listing is in Section 113.
13. The specifications of and procedures for handling oversize and projecting loads is detailed in Section 256. There are exceptions for lowboys with large dozers and excavators which are outlined in section 259. Some large loads are not permitted to be moved between sunset and sunrise.
14. The requirements for brakes on trailers of all types are specified in Part A of the 6th Schedule. Please read the regulations, as ignorance will not be a defense when you are being ticketed.
15. Sections 76 -105 are the regulation to do with lamps and lighting. There are rules for head, fog, brake, marker, park, registration plates and reverse lamps.
16. Sections 69 and 70 detail the requirements for and the color and placement of white, red, yellow and chevron pattern reflectors.
17. Section 111 details the requirements for and the use of hazard lights
18. For the future, all vehicles manufactured after 2024 will require daytime running lights to be used while operating.
There are two new additions to the regulation that will be impacting truck operators. These are:
19. The Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance Regulations (Section 237). This allows the gathering of violation information on items such as speeding, running red lights, lane violations and may others, which will be tied to the vehicle. It is the responsibility of the registered OWNER of the vehicle and not the driver, to pay these fines. Many of the cameras that you see all over and think that they are decorations, are working, but there was no law to use the traffic information collected.
20. Transportation of Dangerous Goods (Section 285 – 294). There is a listing of dangerous good which will require special attention. Please be aware that gas and diesel are classified as Dangerous goods and there are limits on the amount that may be carried without complying with the regulations.
There are three components
(1) Drivers will have to be trained and certified – this is to be announced and Gazetted at a later date.
(2) Vehicles will have to be labeled with the marking appropriate to the dangerous good being carried.
(3) Drivers will need to have both a Manifest and a Transport Emergency Card which list the type of dangerous goods and the required emergency procedure.
So you will no longer be able to put 20 drums of diesel in the back of your Isuzu truck and send it on the road without a manifest and transport emergency card.
There are many other changes which are important. These include new traffic signals, new speed limits, new regulations for school zones, new noise level regulations and new exhaust quality standards. Please try to get a copy of the Regulations and to do a thorough reading.
The new Regulations may be downloaded at https://japarliament.gov.jm/attachments/article/339/Road-Traffic-Regulations-May-20–2022—complete.pdf The Road Traffic Act may be downloaded at https://www.ta.org.jm/media/Know%20the%20Road%20Code/RoadTrafficAct.pdf