Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Dr Morais Guy, announced that the condition will be added to the Road Traffic Act to prohibit that practice.
Law offenders who are caught smoking while driving or in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public places will see a fine of J$10,000(US$85).
“We feel that we have the obligation and the responsibility to ensure that people who are driving should not be smoking at the same time,” Dr. Guy said in the House of Representatives on Tuesday as he closed off the debate on the report of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on the Road Traffic Ac.
Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, also contributed to the debate and said that impaired driving due to alcohol, and other drugs, such as ganja had to be addressed under the legislation.
“Research shows that cannabis impairs cognitive and psychomotor skills and a zero tolerance level should be adopted that prohibits the presence of any amount of drugs in the blood while driving,” he said.
Ferguson also highlighted that several other countries, including the United States, have taken similar approaches.
“The enforcement of comprehensive and clear legislation with appropriate penalties, and accompanied by public awareness campaigns, is a critical factor in reducing road traffic injuries and deaths associated with speed, drunk driving, and the non-use of occupant protection measures, such as, helmets, seat belts, and child restraints. Road traffic injuries are preventable,” the minister said.
In 2013, a record of 11,372 persons had to be treated at accident and emergency departments in public hospitals due to road traffic crashes.
While 87% percent of those treated were in the age group of 10 to 44, with 20 to 29-year-olds counting for the majority of victims at the remaining 28%.