A bevy of changes to the rules for driving in the Cayman Islands will take effect two weeks from Friday, according to Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly’s office.
Among the changes made in the law and regulations, which had not been made public by Friday afternoon, is the introduction of a partial ban on using cell phones while driving.
“Effective 21 September, it will be against the law to talk, text, bbm etc., while driving a car,” according to a statement released by Ms O’Connor-Connolly’s office.
“Too many people have become too accustomed to checking e-mail or sending a text while behind the wheel, even though it's as dangerous as drinking and driving,” said Deputy Premier O’Connor-Connolly.
“We have lost enough of our youth to speeding, and it our hope that this law will be a preventive measure and that over time it will change the attitudes of our citizens.”
The new offence of using a mobile telephone while operating a vehicle has been added to the Traffic Regulations and carries a $150 fine.
The Traffic Law does provide some exceptions in using mobile phones while driving, including the use of certain approved hands-free devices and using a hand-held phone to call 911 in case of emergency.
The Traffic Law also brings with it some 12 new regulations and a revised Road Code, which provides a comprehensive guide to the conduct of all road users, including pedestrians, animal riders, motorcyclists and bicyclists.
The new Road Code has illustrates the correct way to maneuver around a roundabout and demonstrates what road signs mean. Some of the changes in the law relate to traffic fines, the correct level of tint and a new categorisation of motor vehicles – to include certain solely electric-powered cars that can be used on roads.
"The updated Traffic Law, regulations and new Road Code apply to everyone who uses the road – both drivers and pedestrians. Everyone should familiarise themselves with the new provisions and understand what their rights are," Ms. O'Connor-Connolly stated.
Director of the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing David Dixon said: “There was a significant need to categorise the various types of vehicles to address the fee structure in the Traffic Regulations and to allow for the proper registration and licensing of electric vehicles. In addition, we have removed Group 5 from the driver’s license group in paragraph 4 relating to motor scooters, as these were best suited for the Group1 class of driver’s license.”
Another significant change provides for police officers to issue tickets to persons who park in disabled parking spots, without the required blue 'Disabled Person Badge'.
There is also a change in the Regulations to ensure that driving instructors are properly licensed and regulated. But the law will grandfather in current driving instructors, who will be subjected to testing from to time to time to determine their suitability to instruct students, Mr. Dixon said.
Traffic fines have also been revised.
“For example, using a vehicle without registration plates was $25. This is now increased to $100. Failing to obey traffic signal/signs was $25 and will be increased to $200,” Mr. Dixon said.