220 summonses for failure to belt up on minibuses

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2008, 12:00am

More than 260 summonses and verbal warnings were issued to public light-bus passengers found not wearing seat belts during a special 24-hour police operation that ended yesterday morning.

Police said the operation was part of ongoing efforts to encourage drivers and passengers to protect themselves from injury.

Officers issued 49 verbal warnings and 220 summonses to the minibus passengers. Four fixed penalty tickets were also issued to light-bus drivers during the citywide operation.

Police said it was the passengers' personal responsibility to ensure they wore a seat belt if one was fitted. Any light-bus passenger not wearing a seat belt is subject to a maximum fine of HK$5,000 and three months' imprisonment.

Any light-bus driver who fails to wear a seat belt is also liable to a fine of HK$5,000 and three months' imprisonment.

'Police have given a high priority to reducing deaths and injuries arising from traffic accidents, and will continue to adopt a three-pronged approach of education, publicity and enforcement to tackle the problem,' a police spokesman said.

In the first six months of this year, there were 546 traffic accidents involving public light buses, resulting in 889 casualties. There were 544 traffic accidents and 870 casualties in the same period last year.

Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group chairman Lai Ming-hung said passengers were first required to wear seat belts in minibuses two years ago, but few followed the rule.

'There are 4,350 minibuses in Hong Kong; about one-third of them have installed seat belts,' Mr Lai said. 'Passengers on board one with seat belts should wear them, but then we find that many passengers do not do so.'

Notices were places on minibuses and drivers sometimes reminded passengers to fasten their seat belts, Mr Lai added.

'Passengers should wear a seat belt,' he said. 'If they fail to do it, they may not be covered by insurance and it is more dangerous.'

Risky business

The number of traffic accidents involving minibuses in the first six months of the year was: 546