HK$86m traffic camera plan will cut odds for red-light gamblers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2007, 12:00am

Drivers who gamble on the red-light camera being a dummy and jump the lights could have a shock in store.

The government has proposed to invest HK$86.34 million on new equipment to ensure there is a camera in every casing. It also wants to upgrade the wet-film cameras to digital ones. At present, 96 cameras are rotated around 131 casings.

In a paper put before the Legislative Council transport panel yesterday, the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau proposed buying 75 digital cameras and casings, some to replace existing equipment, to provide 155 casings in total, each with a functioning camera, by 2010.

Lawmakers and the taxi trade welcomed the move, but transport panel chairman Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the process was too slow. 'There is no doubt the Legislative Council will endorse the project's funding, as there is no controversy on the issue. We will urge [the government] to speed up the works,' said Mr Cheng.

Urban Taxi Drivers Association Joint Committee chairman Kwok Chi-piu said the move would improve road safety. 'Some drivers may try their luck in the hope there isn't any camera in the casing, but now that would be impossible,' he said.

It was the second expansion of the system since the Transport Department bought 68 new cameras last year.

The plan supplemented new legislation introduced last year in raising penalties for red-light jumping from a fine of HK$450 to HK$600 and demerit points from three to five.

The bureau said the measures had proved effective in combating the offence as the number of accidents involving violation of traffic signals had dropped by 23 per cent from 331 in 2005 to 256 last year. This resulted in a decline in casualties from 608 in 2005 to 434 last year.

Warning signs

The number of prosecutions last year for jumping red lights 42,916

The number of accidents involving violation of traffic signals last year 256