Drive-slow plan over red light penalties

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 June, 2005, 12:00am

Taxi and minibus drivers say they will cause traffic congestion in busy districts on Friday as they mount an hour-long slow-drive protest against planned tougher penalties for running red lights.

In the protest from 10am to 11am all over Hong Kong, drivers will slow down as they approach green lights while others will stop altogether and wait for the red light to come and go before moving on.

'I am sure that busy roads will be very congested once our action begins,' said Lai Ming-hung, chairman of the Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group.

The group, which represents more than 50 minibus and taxi operators, is organising the protest to highlight complaints that tougher penalties are unfair without a better mechanism to warn drivers when the lights will change.

'We want the government to know traffic will be affected if all transport workers have to slow down before passing traffic lights to avoid being prosecuted for jumping red lights,' Mr Lai said.

The government is to present motions at the Legislative Council next Wednesday to raise the penalty for jumping a red light from three penalty points to five, and to increase the fine from $450 to $600.

The group said it did not object to the heavier penalty but it wanted the government to improve the traffic light system before pushing the proposal.

'It is important for the government to install more traffic facilities to inform drivers how much time they have before the lights change,' said Mr Lai.

His call echoed one last week from the Motor Transport Workers General Union, which said the government should install a system whereby the green lights flashed before they were about to change, as used in mainland cities like Shenzhen.

Mr Lai's group threatened to step up its action further if the government still insisted on presenting the proposed law to Legco.

'We might do the slow drive during the rush hour to let the government know how chaotic traffic will be if it goes ahead with that new law without installing supporting traffic facilities,' he said.