Hong Kong drivers to face 25 per cent rise in fines for five traffic offences
Official says move is a compromise after earlier plan for higher penalties covering more violations was shelved
Hong Kong’s drivers will face a 25 per cent increase in fines for five traffic violations after a resolution was passed on Wednesday to raise the tiers of fixed penalties for such offences to HK$400 and HK$560.
The move, which will take effect on June 1, marks the first increase in fines since 1994.
Under the new rules, those who unlawfully enter a junction box; make U-turns that cause obstructions; stop at a bus stop, public light bus stand or a taxi stand without authorisation; or stop a public bus, public light bus or taxi longer than necessary when picking up or dropping off passengers will face a fine of HK$400, up from HK$320.
Hong Kong traffic offence fines to rise 50 per cent from June 2018 in bid to crack down on illegal parking
For those who pick up or drop off passengers in a restricted zone, a fine of HK$560 from the current HK$450 will be imposed.
The revised penalties for the five congestion-related offences came after the government failed to win backing from a Legislative Council subcommittee last year over its original plan to raise fines by 50 per cent for nine parking offences and six other traffic violations.
Lawmakers argued that just because the government failed to address the acute shortage of parking spaces in the city, it should not raise fixed penalties for illegal parking offences. They said this would be unfair to drivers, especially those of commercial vehicles, who struggle to find parking spaces.
The government was eventually forced to shelve the plan and reduce the rise in fines for five traffic offences to 25 per cent.
Speaking in Legco, Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan insisted that while the smaller increase in the five offences was not entirely effective in tackling congestion, the government was willing to heed concerns raised by lawmakers.
“The government understands the concern of members and is willing to accept the proposal so that an important small step forward can be taken jointly with Legco, to respond to the call of the community for prompt improvement in traffic,” he said.
Chan reiterated the earlier proposed rises in fines were not intended to punish drivers but served as a deterrent against behaviours that would cause traffic congestion. He said he would push for more rises in fines in the future “to restore the deterrent effect”, as long as these were deemed appropriate.
From January to November 2017, about 1.68 million fixed penalty tickets were issued for illegal parking or other traffic offences, up 14 per cent from 1.47 million over the same period in 2016.