Traffic bill sets fines, jail term for reckless drivers

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Kampala traffic jam

Government has introduced new traffic and road safety proposals intended to strengthen road transport regulation and management but will see an increase in fines and penalties for traffic offences including a 10-year jail time for death from reckless driving.

The proposals are contained in the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 (Amendment) Bill, 2019, presented to Parliament by Works Minister, Eng. Monica Azuba, on Wednesday, 17 July 2019.

The Bill seeks to amend the 1998 Traffic and Road Safety Act taking into account new and emerging trends and dynamics in road transport and road safety management, the increased number of road users, and the need to conform to the regional and international agreements Uganda is signatory to.

In the amendment, government proposes that a convicted offender leading to the death or causes injury to a person will be liable to 10 and three years in prison respectively.

“A person who causes the death of any person by reckless driving of a motor vehicle, trailer or engineering plant commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to imprisonment of not exceeding 10 years,” reads part of the Bill.

The current law provides for a penalty of a maximum of shs5 million or five years imprisonment upon conviction.

The Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, referred the Bill to the House Committee on Physical Infrastructure, which according to the Rules of Procedure, has 45 days within which to report to the plenary.

The Minister said that the current law does not provide the definition of careless, reckless and dangerous driving, which would be required to guide Police in their application.

In the Bill, reckless driving refers to disregard of the rules of the road or driving without proper caution. Reckless driving includes driving over the prescribed limit, failing to use signals, disobeying traffic signs and signals, driving into another lane and distracted driving. It also includes using a hand held mobile phone, driving without due care and attention or reasonable consideration of other road users; driving while under the influence of a drink or drugs; and failing to stop for a pedestrian at a designated pedestrian crossing.

In another departure from the existing law, motorists will be required to carry their original driving licences, or permits at all times while driving.

“A person shall not drive any class of motor vehicle, trailer or engineering plant on a road unless he or she holds and is in physical possession of a valid driving licence or a valid learner driving licence endorsed in respect of that group of motor vehicle, trailer or engineering plant,” reads the Bill.

The Bill also forbids a person to engage in the repair, trade, manufacture, deal in new, second hand or reconditioned motor vehicles, trailers or engineering plant without having an approved place of business or in possession of a licence issued by government. The Bill further provides a fine of Shs2 million or a one-year imprisonment for the offence.

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