Video cameras in trucks must be made law

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 April, 2008, 12:00am

It takes a tragedy to make society realise its shortcomings. The spate of deaths from reversing vehicles over the past two years should have ensured measures were put in place so that there could be no more senseless loss of life. What was done did not go far enough, though, and another person was killed yesterday.

The truck's audible reverse warning was working, although neither the driver nor his companion were aware of the 76-year-old man walking behind across a cul-de-sac in San Po Kong. Only when a passing motorist shouted to them did they know that they had run the man down. Demands for a law making rear surveillance cameras on trucks mandatory have been instantly re-energised.

For the chairman of the Legislative Council transport panel, Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, the case is one of 'I told you so'. He submitted such a bill to the government nine months ago, but there has yet to be a response. A similar call came in 2006 when a father and his 11-month-old daughter were killed in Mid-Levels by a truck being driven by a Water Services Department contractor.

Hundreds of people are hit by vehicles in Hong Kong each year. Given the high ratio of people to vehicles, the assumption is that our city should be among the world's most pedestrian-friendly. That at least a dozen people a day are injured in this manner tells the opposite: this is a city where drivers and pedestrians too often forget about one another.

The reason could be any of a number of factors - the fast pace of life here, a lack of education about road rules, the distractions of so much noise and colour in such a confined place, poor urban planning or, simply, carelessness. Whichever, the present rules are clearly not enough.

Accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians can never be entirely avoided, but Mr Cheng's idea would go a considerable way to reducing the chances. Video cameras cost only HK$1,200 and substantially increase a drivers' rear vision. Making them compulsory for all trucks would be straightforward.

With lives at stake, there can be no more inaction. This time, the government must not delay.