Traffic black spot definitions 'need review'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 May, 2010, 12:00am

The Transport Department is being urged to review its definition of what constitutes a traffic black spot after Monday's fatal crash between a taxi and a minibus in which the latter somersaulted into an underpass.

The junction between Sha Tin Wai Road and Tai Chung Kiu Road is not on the list of 52 black spots on the department's website, although a senior police officer said it was considered one by the force.

The list was last updated in December last year but the site would not merit inclusion because it does not fit with the definition. Only places which have had six accidents involving pedestrians in a year, nine accidents with injuries or deaths in a year, or two fatal accidents within five years fit the definition.

Superintendent Wong Kim-wing of the New Territories South police traffic unit said on Monday that any site with two accidents in a month would be submitted to a committee within the force to determine if it should be labelled a black spot. He said the Sha Tin crash site was one.

Miriam Lau Kin-yee, lawmaker for the transport sector, said transport officials should be more flexible.

'The department considers only the number of deaths and injuries, but it ignores the actual traffic situation - whether a location has many vehicles jumping red lights or speeding incidents.'

New Territories district councillor Christine Fong Kwok-san said the department's definition of a traffic black spot should match that of the police's.

Sites on the department's list are identified by signs and given priority for road-safety measures such as red-light cameras.

But Chief Superintendent Michael Demaid-Groves of traffic said yesterday that there was no conflict between the two definitions. 'It is only on a local level that police address the concern of the community with a different standard; on the policy level, we have common ground with the Transport Department on what a traffic black site is.'

He said when a sudden rise in accidents occurred in an area police worked with the community, holding meetings and advising district officials on any actions. This is why there seemed to be two definitions.

Sha Tin district councillors will discuss tomorrow any necessary measures to improve traffic at the junction, which is notorious for jumping of red lights.

Cable TV recorded at least four cars jumping the lights in the seven hours from midnight yesterday.

But a camera previously installed at the site was removed in 2007 after roadworks left no suitable site for its reinstallation.

The Transport Department said that camera did not cover the scene of the accident anyway, but it would continue talks with police and residents on whether a camera should be restored.

The two drivers in Monday's accident - in which a butcher died and six people were injured - were arrested for dangerous driving causing death and released on HK$10,000 bail.