Speed traps an open secret

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 April, 1998, 12:00am

I whole-heartedly agree with the letter headlined, 'Must curb aggressive driving' (South China Morning Post, March 11), responding to an earlier letter from H M Blud, for Commissioner of Police (Post, February 28), on the police's efforts to punish offending motorists.

The number of parking tickets issued far outweighs the number of tickets issued for moving offences, for several reasons: There are more officers on beat patrol and traffic wardens who can individually carry out the task of writing parking tickets without requesting assistance since they are merely dealing with a three-tonne piece of metal that is less likely to talk back than dealing with an actual human being with the capability of giving the officers a hard time.

More officers are used to catch speeders, two to man the speed radar gun, and half a dozen more to man the road block further down the road and these are all officers from the smaller pool of the traffic wing.

It is much easier to avoid a speeding ticket than a parking ticket.

I drive a motorbike all over Hong Kong and I know where the police set up their speed traps. Understandably, the police choose to set them up in locations where they can conduct their duties safely. However, to use the same locations over and over again has not achieved the goal of changing the driving habits of Hong Kong's drivers.

If the police really want motorists to stick to the speed limits, I suggest they: a) ban pager/taxi companies from broadcasting the location of speed traps; and, b) intensify the use of in-car video-camera recording of offences taking place. This was a very successful tool on the Tolo Highway in making me think twice about speeding, since I never knew if the car I was speeding past was an unmarked police car filming my every move.

And if the police want to see drivers not run through red lights and give way to pedestrians at zebra crossings, use their headlights when driving at night, and turn on their blinkers before changing lanes, I suggest they empower their beat police and traffic wardens to ticket offenders there, instead of just issuing parking tickets.

Only once in the past five years have I seen an emergency unit police car pull over a motorist for committing a traffic offence. Granted this is not their main duty, but a uniformed policeman is a uniformed policeman and if the feeling is that it is not in their jurisdiction to take such action, then motorists will drive freely in the knowledge that they can get away with anything, an attitude which, regrettably, is already in the bloodstream of many Hong Kong drivers. As someone once said: 'If you see something wrong and you do nothing about it, you create a new standard.' I am sick of driving in this city of new standards and it is time the police did something about it, and that includes following the traffic rules themselves.