Officials urged to launch campaigns to promote road safety in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 August, 2012, 1:35am


As a traffic engineering professional who has worked in the private sector and for government agencies, I pay particular attention to matters relating to road safety.

Not long after arriving in Hong Kong from overseas two years ago, I noticed the near reckless attitude most motorists have towards pedestrians.

Pedestrians are vulnerable road users, and yet in Hong Kong they are treated by motorists like dogs and chickens in a third-world country. They have to run to avoid oncoming vehicles. Often, these motorists are pushy and have an attitude of "run away or I'll run you over" towards pedestrians. I read a report in a local paper which revealed that the majority, or 73 per cent, of victims killed in pedestrian accidents in Hong Kong were aged 60 or over.

Elderly people tend to be less agile. They either misjudge the speed and distance of moving vehicles, or are simply not quick enough to avoid a fast-moving vehicle.

I would suggest that children would be in the category just behind the elderly for high road traffic accident rates. They too have difficulty judging distance and the speed of moving vehicles.

Reckless, rude, arrogant, ruthless and bullies - these are the words that I hear people using to describe bad motorists in this city.

Sadly, the majority of motorists here behave that way, in particular people who do it for a career. We are sick and tired of it. Ensuring improved road safety is possible through focusing on the three Es, namely, engineering, enforcement and education. With engineering, when designing transport infrastructure, it is important to balance the different interests of road users, motorists and pedestrians.

In the area of enforcement, you cannot catch all the offenders and sometimes even when you do, someone has already been injured or killed.

Education is the most proactive, cost-effective and widespread measure.

It is used by transport agencies in many countries to improve road safety. These campaigns, often broadcast on TV, usually cover areas such as fastening a seat belt, not speeding, and not drinking and driving. However, I have seen few of these campaigns being launched by the Transport Department.

Other departments have effective TV campaigns on issues such as occupational safety and electrical contractors, so why don't transport officials follow suit?

Vincent Lin, Sha Tin