May 10, 2010, 3:18 PM
At its second meeting in the 2008 Legislative year, the National Assembly last Thursday amended the Motor Traffic Act, prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving in traffic and driving in traffic without a seat belt.
Under the revised Act, a person who uses or talks on a mobile phone when driving on a road commits an offence. But if the person uses a hands-free phone set whilst both hands are on the steering wheel, he or she is not liable for any offence.
The Act also prohibits the driving of a motor vehicle on a road unless the person is fastened to a seat belt. It shall also be an offence under the Act for a person driving a motor vehicle to have in the front seat of the vehicle a passenger who is not restrained by a seat belt.
Consequently, any person who contravenes the use of mobile phone while driving shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be liable to a fine of not less than D2, 500 and a fine of D1000 and not more than D1,500 for any person who contravenes the mandatory use of seat belt.
Moving the motion before Members of the National Assembly for enactment, Ousman Sonko, Secretary of State for Interior, said the bill seeks to amend the Motor Traffic Act in relation to the use of mobile phones while driving in traffic and driving in the traffic without seat belts.
According to Secy Sonko, there has been an increase in the number of vehicles and persons involved in road traffic accidents, which often lead to serious consequences most especially in the Greater Banjul Area.
"Most of these accidents are caused by non-use of seat belts. The relevant laws that allow the use of seat belts and prohibit drivers to desist from the use of mobile phones while driving in traffic are completely at stake in the Motor Traffic Act", he said.
In Secy Sonko's view, the absence of appropriate laws to regulate the use of seat belts and non-use of mobile phones while driving in traffic is of great concern to the Department of State for Interior.