The government was lambasted yesterday for slow progress in regulating minibus drivers, despite figures that transport officials said showed an improving safety record in recent months. The criticism came after the Legislative Council transport panel heard that moves to make seat belts mandatory in all minibuses were being held up by 'technical problems' and a new set of data recorders aimed at catching speeding motorists was about to be tested after an earlier trial was a failure. 'The issues have been discussed over the past 10 years, and you are still doing the study. Is it so complicated that you need [physicist] Stephen Hawking to do the draft?' panel chairman Lau Kong-wah asked. Deputy Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Annie Choi Suk-han said the government was studying the feasibility of installing seat belts in old minibuses, but there were technical problems to be resolved. 'It is not just about the installation, but whether the framework of old minibuses can support the impact imposed by the seat belts' in an accident, Ms Choi said. She hoped the draft could be finished in the second half of this year. The cost of fitting the belts could be as high as $50,000 for each minibus, depending on how many were installed, she said. Ms Choi said the percentage of buses with safety belts on board would rise to 60 per cent over the next two years as 1,040 came up for replacement. Meanwhile, a second batch of black box data recorders was to be tested in 10 minibuses from next month after an earlier trial failed because inaccurate data was recorded, she said. The boxes record the speed of minibuses and keep it for seven days to check on driver behaviour. Legislators heard that the number of minibus speeding cases fell 3 per cent to 2,345 last year, from 2,223 in 2004, and the number of cases of running red lights was down 8 per cent to 1,930 from 2,118 for the same period in 2004. The reductions followed a city-wide campaign last year after widespread concern over a series of serious accidents involving minibuses. Overall, there was a 28 per cent drop in the number of prosecutions for disobeying traffic lights to 8,996 up to May this year from 12,466 over the same period last year. The government also plans to increase the number of speed cameras in the next few months to curb drink-driving. 'We are conducting a large-scale review on the number and the locations where more cameras are needed and we will be applying for funding from the Legco in a couple of months,' Ms Choi said. The government was studying whether drink-drivers should have their licences revoked.