Minibus passengers fail to buckle up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 August, 2004, 12:00am

Only a few passengers used their seat belts yesterday as a new law to boost minibus safety came into force.

Some travellers said they had heard nothing about the new law, while others said they had simply forgotten. The law requires passengers to buckle up on all minibuses equipped with seat belts.

Those failing to do so face a maximum penalty of $5,000 and three months' jail. The law will be enforced after a two-week grace period ends on August 15.

The South China Morning Post yesterday took two rides on Route 28 between Baguio Villa and Causeway Bay. The route's minibuses are among about 100 that have been equipped with seat belts so far.

In the hour-long journeys, only three out of dozens of passengers fastened their seat belts voluntarily right after boarding.

'You can never tell when an accident comes. It just costs you two to three seconds to fasten the seat belt,' said Thomas Cheung, a regular passenger on the route who buckled up on boarding.

Most passengers, as usual, hurried on to the minibus without bothering with seat belts. Some were carrying several shopping bags. They did not even notice four warning stickers posted inside the minibus. One of the drivers said some passengers even ignored his verbal warning.

'We are never told that the bus has been equipped with seat belts... it might be a great difficulty for the elders to find the seat belts and fasten them before they have to get off,' said a regular traveller on the route.

Reminders should be posted on bus doors, she said.