Clarification on Seatbelt Laws: Public Transport Included

Clarification on Seatbelt Laws: Public Transport Included

Since the government passed new traffic laws mandating seatbelt use, there have been many questions surrounding enforcement when it comes to public transport. Many have questioned whether the laws apply to buses and taxis. Well, tonight, we can tell you that the answer is yes. Deputy Chief Transport Officer Peter Williams elaborated on the regulations during an appearance on The Morning Show and explained how they govern public transport. 

Peter Williams, Deputy Chief Transport Officer: “Since 1996 in the principal revelation and the amendment the law still makes provision to accommodate for motor omnibuses meaning that only the driver is required to wear their seatbelt in a motor omnibus. Bear in mind these buses were not manufactured for seatbelts on the passengers and so that is understood when we’re making these legislation. So the driver he or she has to ensure that they wear their seatbelt while they’re operating the vehicle and of course the conductor has to be seated. In Belize we have this culture whereby the conductors are standing by the doors and they have the door open, that is actually an offense. We want to let it known clearly again that the conductors they need to be seated and the doors of these buses it must be closed. It’s actually an offense for them to be standing and for the doors to be open and we have taken drivers to court for that offense and we have convictions for that offense or for both offenses as well. Now as it pertains to taxis which is another form of public service vehicle. If you are operating a taxi the driver and all passengers in the vehicle need to wear their seatbelt. Taxis are not exempted from the use of the seatbelt. In terms of what we call in Belize the busitos they need to wear their seatbelts. We have gotten some concerns from persons saying –

Troy Gabb, Host, The Morning Show: So like the Dalla Van would fall in –

Peter Williams, Deputy Chief Transport Officer: “Yes, correct.”

Rene Villanueva, Host, The Morning Show: So they should be using seatbelts, all the passengers. 

Peter Williams, Deputy Chief Transport Officer: “Yes all the passengers. Correct.”

Rene Villanueva, Host, The Morning Show: Because those come equipped with seatbelts right ? 

Peter Williams, Deputy Chief Transport Officer:  “Yes. So we’ve had complaints from persons saying well the seatbelt isn’t working. And so what I say to people is that you’re essentially incriminating yourself because that can be fleshed out into two offense, two or three offenses because as the owner fo the vehicle you can be charged for not ensuring that your vehicle is in proper working condition right ? And if you own the vehicle and you allow somebody to use the vehicle and you know that it is not in proper working condition both you and that person operating the vehicle can be charged for that offense.”

Williams added that the regulations were created to bolster safety on the country’s roads and reiterated the department’s commitment to enforce the regulations. 

Peter Williams, Deputy Chief Transport Officer: “What this will also do from a safety standpoint it will ensure that everybody in the vehicle is secured and it will reduce the amount of persons who are being carried because we also get complaints about these mini buses or busitos as we call them overcrowding the buses or the vehicles which is another offense. You should not be carrying excessive passengers in these vehicles right ? They must be seated properly and they must be wearing their seatbelts. I want to reiterate that for the Department of Transport as the national regulating body for land transportation in Belize, the use of vehicles, the use of roads, safety is paramount for us. That is our primary mandate, safety on all roads in Belize. And so without a doubt when it comes to these matters we take it extremely seriously. We do have consideration for the economic status of our citizens and we try to bear that in mind because we understand the economic challenges and we also know that when a person is charged its a hefty fine but that does not negate the fact that we have laws in place for a reason and we try to encourage persons to comply with the law because we will execute our duties without fear or favor, affection or ill will. We will execute.”

Williams encourages citizens to visit the Ministry of Transport’s Facebook page to thoroughly read the regulations.

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