Drivers refuse to budge on red lights

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 12:00am

Special Legco committee warned thousands could take to the streets

Professional drivers stood firm yesterday against tougher penalties for jumping red lights unless the Transport Department upgrades lights to give motorists more warning.

Representatives from 43 industry associations attended a Legislative Council subcommittee meeting on the plan to increase the penalty from three driving-offence points to five and raise the fine from $450 to $600.

Lawmakers last week set up the special committee to look into the issue.

While most drivers agreed with the proposal, they said the government must first change traffic signals to ones that flashed and had a timer that counted down to the red light.

Some legislators supported the drivers' comments.

'You should thank the trade and not treat them as an opposition giving suggestions,' legislator Miriam Lau Kin-yee, who represents the transport industry, told transport officials.

Independent legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip said the five-point penalty proposal was the transport version of the Article 23 security bill.

'Article 23 drove 500,000 people to go on the streets. Are you going to put people on the streets again?' he asked government officials. 'If you don't change your attitude, you will be knocking your head against the wall.'

Permanent Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works Joshua Law Chi-kong said there was an urgent need to implement tougher penalties because an average of two accidents a day were caused by vehicles running a red light.

Transport officials plan to introduce the new penalties in January. They originally proposed an eight-point penalty but backed down after strong opposition from professional drivers' groups.

The subcommittee will hold another meeting tomorrow.