Surge in accidents at Tuen Mun roadworks

Call to make road signs bigger and clearer after an expressway undergoing improvements records a threefold spike in incidents

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 4:25am

District councillors alarmed by a threefold increase in traffic accidents at a roadworks site in Tuen Mun have urged the government to make the spot less confusing for drivers.

The road improvement project at Tuen Mun Road began in 2008 and is expected to finish next year.

It involves widening traffic lanes and building various structures such as underpasses, bridges, noise barriers and road lighting along the expressway.

But councillors are concerned by a recent surge in accidents - from eight in October to 26 in December - on the expressway. They want the government to improve signs on the road, among other measures.

Tuen Mun district councillor Lam Chung-hoi noted that the road arrangements - such as which lane to close - were changed every few days, which could be confusing for drivers.

The signs directing motorists were also not clear enough, said Lam, who is a member of the Democratic Party.

"The signs could be made bigger and put up higher. Currently, you have to be 10 to 20 metres away from the signs to see them. It would be better if the drivers could see how the traffic is being diverted from a distance of 100 to 200 metres," he said.

Some traffic lanes have been closed during the work, and the speed limit in some sections lowered from 70km/h to 50km/h.

Lam's colleague Beatrice Chu Shun-nga said a few lanes had become narrower because temporary barriers took up space - even though the lanes remained open to cars.

"Some drivers might get impatient, and it's quite difficult to drive in the narrower lanes," she said.

Veteran transport analyst Dr Hung Wing-tat, of Polytechnic University, said it was possible the temporary road arrangements were confusing some drivers, but more studies would be needed to determine if those arrangements were the direct cause of the higher accident rate.

"Perhaps some drivers have not adapted to the new speed limits and other arrangements."

A series of accidents and vehicle breakdowns have been reported on Tuen Mun Road near Sham Tseng, Hong Kong Garden and Gold Coast in the busy morning hours. Lane closures have mainly been on the Sam Shing Hui section of the expressway in Tuen Mun, and the Tai Lam stretch between Siu Lam and Tsing Lung Tau.

By contrast, the number of accidents on the Tolo Highway - another major link between the New Territories and Kowloon - has remained relatively stable, from 11 in October to 19 in November and 14 in December.