Improvement work completed on highway black spots

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2006, 12:00am

Work on 39 danger spots highlighted by an independent expert panel following the Tuen Mun bus crash has been completed, according to transport officials.

Transport Advisory Committee chairwoman Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah said: 'The independent report suggested 39 locations where the road barriers and bridge parapets ought to be enhanced. We have been notified that all were completed by the end of January this year.'

Addressing yesterday's Court of Appeal ruling, Ms Cheng said: 'That is the decision of the court and we have to respect that.'

She said she hoped that the strengthening work on bridges and roadside barriers carried out by the Highways Department would help prevent similar accidents in the future - but pointed out that drivers' behaviour was paramount in accident prevention.

Describing the strengthening of road barriers as 'a passive method of prevention', she said: 'The only thing that can minimise and truly reduce the accident rate is good driving behaviour - observing the speed limit, not speaking on the phone and no drunk driving.'

The Highways Department has conducted impact tests and computer simulation analysis on the enhanced bridge parapets and roadside barriers to ensure they can withstand the impact of double-decker buses.

'The enhanced designs of bridge parapets and roadside barriers [have been] proven adequate in preventing vehicles penetrating or passing over them,' Ms Cheng said.

The work included strengthening existing three-rail parapets and concrete parapets by adding posts and top rails and placing a row of three-beam barriers in front of parapets where space is available.

Also discussed at a meeting yesterday between the committee and transport and highways officials was the possibility of introducing measures to stop people talking on hands-free mobile phones while driving.

Drivers face a fixed-penalty fine of $450 if caught talking on a hand-held phone while driving.

In January, the first month the fixed penalties were in force, 1,547 fines were handed out by police.

By comparison, in the whole of last year, when court summonses were issued to drivers using handheld phones while driving, only 7,813 summonses were served.

The panel discussed the possibility of banning the use of all mobile phones by drivers.