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Thursday, 26 December 2013

T&T traffic laws: Speeding

After reading the Trinidad Express’ article which tells of the ASP’s ‘warning’ that there will be “Zero tolerance for speeding & drunk driving during the holidays”, I was a little confused as to exactly how the law regarding speeding is going to be enforced in Trinidad & Tobago. 
Firstly, considering that speed guns won’t be here until February 2014, I see this is vacuous rhetoric.

Secondly, however, we all know that speed-guns aren’t the only way to determine whether or not a car is speeding; sometimes we can just tell, right?

In Ohio, USA, in a 5-1 judgement, the case of Barberton v. Jenney, 126 Ohio St.3d 5, 2010-Ohio-2420 determined that a police officer’s "unaided visual estimation of a vehicle's speed is strong enough to support a ticket and conviction”, but this ONLY applies if the officer has been trained and certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy or similar organization.

We have no such organisation in Trinidad & Tobago or even in the wider Caribbean, or as a matter of fact, nothing even internationally that our TTPS officers are subjected to.

Yet, from my understanding, the ASP is suggesting that a police officer parked at the side of the highway can issue a speeding ticket that will hold up in court? Are we saying that a police officer --who has NEVER been trained in speed estimation--, cannot be wrong? And this is before I raise the issue of the intelligence and education of our officers...

Now, thirdly, we have pacing, which is when the police officer following or "pacing" a suspected speeder uses his/her own speedometer to clock the suspect's speed. This technique has many rules to be followed in the countries that use them and also comes with numerous problems, bringing into question its reliability.

I am in no way condoning speeding, but using arbitrary regulations to “police” speeding will only create problems.

I for one know that if, upon my return to T&T next week, I am given one of these ridiculous tickets, I will definitely test our legal system.


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