Pathetic drivers and inadequate policing

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 January, 1999, 12:00am

I refer to Mitchell Stoker's letters headlined, 'Administration has chosen the easy option', and 'Government must take wider view of issue' (South China Morning Post, November 21 and December 23 respectively) and those of others on the subject of drink-driving.

If the drink-driving situation is as bad as we are led to believe, then the proposed change to the law should not be to lower the limit from 80 milligrams to 50mg but to zero.

I believe that a number of countries have adopted this limit.

I drive on average at least 1,500 kilometres a month. From what I see happening on our roads nearly every day, I agree that local driving standards are pathetic and policing a disappointment. Just one day last month on a 10-kilometre journey, I had to avoid two near collisions, one dangerously close, because of other drivers who did not understand what to do at a stop sign and seemingly could not see the over-wattage dipped beam headlamps of my white van in broad daylight from an unobstructed distance of 20 metres, on a clear day.

I once had a windscreen shatter in my face on an expressway when a police cruiser kicked up a rock while overtaking me on the nearside. I was going more than 10 per cent over the speed limit in the offside lane while clearing slower traffic to the left and the cruiser had no lights on, not even headlamps.

I have been pulled over for being in the middle lane of an expressway when the nearside lane ended 250 metres further ahead. I have also been pulled over for not following too close - yes, for not following close enough.

Those are just a few of my experiences in over a decade of motoring here, the likes of which I have not seen in an additional decade of my total driving experience in many of the countries Hong Kong looks to when drafting legislation.

The recent revelation that new motorcycle drivers are more likely to have an accident and therefore should be subject to a probationary period ought to be an indication of where the biggest problem lies.

No doubt the same sort of startling statistic which justified that action could be found to apply to drivers here in general.

This says to me that people are not being taught to drive correctly and yet can still obtain a driving licence.

Addressing this would make for far safer roads in my opinion than tinkering with our belated, though international standard drink-driving law.

That is, unless you believe that local drivers use their hazard lights as a matter of courtesy to indicate that they are indeed a hazard.

Other than not pointing out the Road Users' Code has not been updated for more than 10 years and does not address the now widespread multi-lane roundabout, this is the only thing Mr Stoker missed in otherwise excellent letters.