The new Traffic Act 2020 came into effect on 31 August 2020 and the police operation got underway on 1 October.
The Traffic Act 2020 introduces new offences and increase in penalties. This includes a legal requirement that all drivers and front seat passengers are to wear their seatbelt while on the road, and drivers are prohibited from using a mobile phone while driving.
A Blue Notice as part of the Public Awareness campaign by Police was issued to drivers throughout Tongatapu and the Outer Islands with the intention of giving road users time to adapt to the new laws.
A total of 57 people were issued with Infringement Notices from 1-4 October in Tongatapu.
Of the 57 Notices issued, 16 were for the failure to wear a seatbelt, 14 for speeding, 7 for failure to show a driver’s license, 7 non-compliance with quarterly license of vehicle, 4 for unlicensed driving, 1 for using a mobile phone while driving and other Infringement Notices issued include giving police false information, driver causing loud music, non-essential lights from vehicle, and refusal to take a breath test.
Under the Traffic Regulations, 12 people were issued Infringement Notices for traffic violations that included, illegal parking, failure to have vehicle inspected and failure to install proper lights.
In total, 1,900 vehicles were stopped. The level of compliance is high, and Police have thanked the public for respecting the new traffic rules and keeping themselves and families safe on the road.
A/Deputy Commissioner Tevita Vailea has reiterated the importance of Road Safety, “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility, and the purpose and target of the Traffic Act is to save lives.”
“There are concerns over the penalties, but we need to focus on the reason why the penalties were put up is to deter and to save lives.”
“We also need to change the mindset of people who only wear their seatbelt or follow traffic rules to avoid the Police. You wear your seatbelt because it is safe, and you follow the rules because it is safe. You have a responsibility as a driver for your own safety, the safety of your passengers as well as those on the road,” Vailea said.
Photo supplied Caption: It is now compulsory in Tonga for drivers and passengers sitting in the front seat to wear a seatbelt.