Five demerit points for jumping red lights, transport chief vows

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 12:00am

The transport chief vowed yesterday not to back down further on a proposal to increase the penalty for jumping red lights.

An original proposal suggested drivers lose eight points but officials now say it will be just five.

Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao Sau-tung said it was out of the question to change the proposal to four points.

'Currently, the offence calls for a three-point deduction,' she said. 'We hope to strike a balance. The reason eight points was proposed was because of the strong public reaction to [a fatal North Point minibus accident last year]. But after reviewing opinions [from the public and the industry], the proposal now stands at five points.'

Dr Liao met representatives of professional drivers' groups yesterday to hear why they oppose stiffer penalties. They demanded the government improve visibility of traffic lights and install timers that count down to red lights before increasing the penalty.

She said the government had been adding cameras at junctions to help catch drivers running red lights, adding that she would consider installing traffic lights hung in such a way as to increase visibility.

'I hope the trade will look at this from a more positive point of view,' she said. 'Protecting the public's safety is a responsibility that the government cannot shirk.'

The government had consulted the trade all along and had invited them to a meeting in January. The bureau had kept in touch with them afterwards.

The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau has proposed adopting a phased-in approach by raising the penalty for red-light offences from three points to five and then consider whether to increase it further. The fine would increase from $450 to $600. A licence is suspended if a driver accumulates 15 points within two years.

This is a step back from the original plan to hit red-light jumpers with eight demerit points for each offence.

Lawmakers are due to meet at the transport panel on Friday to discuss the revised proposal.