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Dr. Ralph Gonsalves: Read new traffic law

Dr. Ralph Gonsalves: Read new traffic law

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by Vanesta Murphy 21.JUL.06

With a new seatbelt and helmet law about to be implemented by the government, Searchlight Health went out in hopes of finding out, not only how the auto dealers feel about the laws, but also how they are planning to deal with the demand.

Silky Da Silva of Star Garage, said that only one person, a female, inquired about seat belts because her car had come without them. He also said that he would facilitate the public in any way necessary, if they want seat belts and car seats for children – he will import and install them.{{more}}

When asked about vehicles coming without seat belts, most car dealers agreed that that only happens when a dishonest dealer wants to sell the public older models at the price that a newer vehicle would fetch. One of the few places on a vehicle that the age is stated is on the seat belt. Bishan Thomas of ‘Tha Hook Up’ said that he was shocked to hear that dealers would actually sell a vehicle without the seat belts. He said that while he could see a dealer taking out a fog lamp or radio for resale, taking out seat belts just seemed unbelievable.

Barry Shortte of NAPA told Searchlight Health that they already have motorcycle helmets in stock, and that more people have enquired about helmets than about seat belts as most vehicles came with seat belts fully installed, since the Vincentian dealers import market is mainly used vehicles from Japan.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Searchlight Health that the government plans on giving concessions to the auto dealers. From a safety standpoint, he said that they basically zero rate the seat belts and helmets for purpose of duties, but they will undoubtedly have to pay the customs service charge. The Prime Minister went on to say: “I haven’t yet worked out with the officials from the Ministry the extent of the concessions but they should be very significant”.

He also said that the Police, Minister of Transport and the Attorney General were all working out a grace period for the public to comply. Dr. Gonsalves anticipates that it will be a six-month grace period for front seat belts, while back seat belts will more than likely get a further three months added to that time. He said that helmets are fairly straightforward.

As for the penalties that are associated with the new law, The Prime Minister has urged the public to read the law, so they will not make the error that a first time offender will actually have to pay $2,000. The fine is LIABLE to $2,000, not $2,000. A first offender might only face a $50 fine; “it’s really up to the discretion of the magistrate”. He gave the examples of parking with your left car wheel over the yellow line, that too carries a $2,000 penalty, but it’s very rarely that anyone will actually be fined that amount, and also unlawful wounding, the maximum penalty is five years, but the perpetrator may only get six months depending on the seriousness of the crime. He implored the press to give the public the full information, as misinformation leads to confusion.

When it comes to auto dealers taking the seat belts out of vehicles, the Prime Minister says that the person buying the vehicle knows that it comes with certain specifications and it’s up to that person to enquire as to where the seat belt is. He said that there needs to be an ongoing educational campaign about the benefits of using seat belts and helmets, and added that he was glad that Searchlight is involved.

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