My Take

Yawn ... another crackdown on illegal parking

Periodic campaigns against errant drivers serve little purpose; the only way to ensure compliance is to enforce the law all the time

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 12:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 7:57am

Watch out, drivers. Police have launched the citywide Operation Move-sky to crack down on illegal parking and road obstruction. Why do they always come up with weird names for their operations?

But a more pertinent question is: why do police need to launch such operations periodically in the first place? Aren’t frontline officers supposed to enforce traffic laws against irresponsible and dangerous drivers anyway, as a matter of routine?

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for a sustained crackdown on illegal parking, loading, unloading, pick-up and alighting, and stopping or waiting in restricted zones. Officers have been instructed not to give prior warnings or show leniency; they will just go in for the kill.

Furthermore, Superintendent Eric Tsang Moon-lun – who is in charge of the road safety unit – promises the latest operation will go on for a while, without an end date being set yet. But why call it an operation if it’s indefinite?

Hong Kong police launch indefinite campaign against illegal parking and road obstruction

There were four operations against bad drivers last year and two so far this year. Most of these campaigns last about a week. So a more persistent campaign like this one is a good start. But it does sound like it will just go on longer than usual, and then it’s back to business as usual.

Here’s an idea. How about not running such campaigns periodically? It just means police are not as tough as they should be in enforcing traffic laws the rest of the time. How about just telling your officers to fine and/or detain whenever they see a traffic violation?

Drivers are like those dogs in Pavlovian response-conditioning experiments. When they see you are not enforcing the law against them, they will keep on doing it. But when you keep inflicting pain on their bad behaviour, such as fining them, with no leeway, most will learn. I know because I am one of them.

There are two stories I have heard since I was a child. One is that police sometimes take it easy on professional drivers and movers, and that they are afraid of complaints from rich people if they fine their chauffeurs. They sound more like urban myths, especially the latter in this day and age.

Everyone benefits if traffic flows smoothly on the road. And that means enforcing the law regularly, rather than periodically.