Understanding the Law
October 13, 2006

People, buckle up!

Last week we looked at the new law dealing with seat belts. It is expected that everyone will try every possible means to remember to buckle their seat belts. I know there are not many persons who would deliberately refuse to buckle up. Everyone wants to obey the law and it is my hope that the authorities would not be hard for a short while and we would be given a chance to get into the habit of using the device. We are always reminded on the aircraft by the air hostess and the red light overhead also gives a reminder. Some vehicles are equipped with red light devices; some even have a seat belt that would automatically buckle up as soon as one gets into the front seats.{{more}}

Our law requires back seat buckles. To avoid unnecessary expenses drivers of vehicles should take it upon themselves to remind the occupants in their vehicle to buckle up.

Provisions for inspections would make it difficult for persons to break section 57P of the law which requires motor vehicles to be fitted with seat belts. The Licensing Authority shall before registering a motor vehicle, satisfy itself that seat belts are in place and may refuse to register a vehicle that is not fitted with the device. Any vehicle without the device will be compelled to have the seat belts at inspection.

Restraint for a child

The law requires the driver of a vehicle to have a restraint system positioned in the rear seat for a child. This suggests that a child cannot ride in the front seat. The Act does not give the age of the child but it describes a child in the interpretation section as “any person whose size, height or build is such that the person experiences or is likely to experience problem or difficulty with the upper anchorage point of a seat belt.”

It describes the child restraint system as “a seat belt, restraint system or other device or combination of devices, designed to diminish the risk of injury to a child, in the event of collision or of abrupt deceleration of a motor vehicle by limiting the mobility of the body of the child.”

The foregoing appears to provide for a child that can sit upright but it is silent as to how babies are to be carried. In some countries babies must be carried in a special car seat which is fitted on to the seat and is removable. Compliance with the law starts at the hospital when the baby is taken home.

Protective Helmet

The protective helmets are directed to those persons who drive motorbikes, the pillion rider and those who use bicycles. The helmet must be of a type certified by the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Bureau of Standards.

Any one who contravenes the law commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding $2,000 for the first offence and not exceeding $5,000 for a second or subsequent offence.

• Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com