By Carlena Knight
An increase in ticket fines for two major traffic offences could soon be on the books.
This is according to Head of the Traffic Department, Superintendent Rodney Ellis, who spoke on the matter yesterday morning.
According to Ellis, due to the alarming increase in tickets for failure to wear seat belts and speeding, the recommendation will be made by his division to increase these fines from $200 to $500.
“We will be making some recommendations because a cause for concern is that persons are not using their seatbelts and it’s mandatory that you use a seatbelt as front seat passengers and especially the driver.
“The fee for not wearing seatbelts is EC$200 and I am thinking to get persons to comply to wear their seatbelts, suggestions will be made to increase that fine to the same like the cellphone.
“Also, for speeding, a recommendation will be made for that to be increased also. The reason is not to make money, but to get people to comply with the rules and regulations and not to exceed the speed limit,” the senior officer said.
Based on the latest statistics for the first six months of this year, 6,349 tickets have been issued for various offences, more than doubling 2020’s figure of 3,105. Four hundred and thirty-one of the 6,349 were for using cell phones while driving.
The traffic boss is also warning business operators who are using cones and other items to block parking spaces in town, to cease and desist from doing so.
“That’s illegal. If the Commissioner [of Police] authorised that reserved parking, fine; they have the authority to do so, but no one can just go and put an old chair or a cone in any area. If you’re driving down and you see them and you want to park, you move them and then park. Nobody can do you anything. However, if the Commissioner authorised the parking, that is for those business places once you see the reserved markings,” he said.
Ellis also shared his concern over the alarming number of collisions occurring in the country.
“We have too many collisions in Antigua and Barbuda for such a small country. However, we have to take into consideration the [number] of vehicles that are on the road now, and the road network has not changed for some years now. We have to cater for over 45,000 vehicles.
“From the same period last year, we had a total of 1,108 collisions and for the same period for this year, we had 1,035; that is an increase of 73 collisions. It’s too much,” he added.
According to the figures, drivers in the 25-50 age group are responsible for the majority of minor collisions.
However, Ellis explained that the more serious accidents involve drivers between the ages of 18 and 25.
Meanwhile, the statistics for the first half of 2021 showed that 66 males sustained injuries as a result of collisions, compared to 46 females, and of the combined 112 persons, 29 suffered serious injuries, while 83 had minor injuries.