Recent multiple deaths in Hong Kong’s road-racing black spots, most shockingly on Bride’s Pool Road, in Tai Po, have brought a perennial issue back into the spotlight. Make no mistake, “road racing” – driving well beyond the legal speed limit – has frequently tragic consequences. As far back as the 1920s, almost as soon as engines capable of high speeds on winding mountain roads had been developed, Hong Kong had acquired its first hooligan motorists. Pre-war road-race locations – Shek O Road and the old Tai Po Road – remain popular with today’s testosterone-fuelled louts. As road networks steadily extended, and the first multi-lane highways were constructed, the incidence of road racing, and consequent multi-vehicle pile-ups and fatalities, exponentially grew. On my afternoon drives up Tai Mo Shan, spotting which crash barrier or stone wall bears evidence of some recent high-speed impact is a regular diversion. Every so often, painfully fresh fragments of newly mangled vehicles can be seen, in the form of off-scoured front ends and hub caps left behind at the scene. Frantic-looking skid-mark patterns at key points on the road are scary reminders of other people’s near misses. Personal observation of motorcycle road racers on Route Twisk over many years, however, suggests most speed demons are accustomed to regularly driving high-powered vehicles; many would also appear to have attended “safe speeding” courses, and learned other highly skilled road-handling techniques. Inevitably, the question arises unbidden: exactly where – or in the course of what “day jobs” – were these talents first acquired, and then kept in such effective practice afterwards? Once upon a time – and not that long ago – banknotes of the right denomination, folded into one’s driving licence when a check was requested, were all it took to make most motoring-mishap consequences disappear. Fortunately, these methods for making life’s little problems vanish have been relegated to the history books. Crash tragedy puts spotlight on Hong Kong’s speed demons, illegal races Over a year ago, out walking one Sunday afternoon, I noticed a too obvious “speed trap” being put together at the bottom of Route Twisk. “Collecting your winnings?” I jokingly inquired of the young constable helping to set things up. Language standards are evidently not what they were; at this feeble jest, he gaped uncomprehendingly, and looked searchingly at his older colleague standing nearby. The latter glared sullenly when the penny dropped, then flapped his hand and grunted “go-go-go!” Thus shooed, I continued up the hill, all the while silently shaking my head at the ineffectiveness of this time-wasting charade. Wrong place, wrong hour – even the wrong day; their so-called sting operation was doomed to fail. Three in the morning on a weekday would be much more fruitful. Route Twisk’s main road-racing concourse extends through the upper military quarters at Shek Kong, and then for a few kilometres of sharply winding mountain road directly above. Higher up, a lookout point with a pavilion provides a convenient spot for participants to turn around, check their latest run with the evening’s timekeeper, and then head down again for another rowdy adrenaline burst. In this location – no one else lives there – the only late-night noise-nuisance victims are members of our local People’s Liberation Army garrison. To any reasonable observer, this situation is unacceptable. Our resident PLA detachment have mostly come from far away to serve the country’s defence requirements in Hong Kong, and are often separated from their homes and families for long periods. Whenever locally based PLA servicemen are encountered out and about around here, they are invariably friendly, cheerful and polite. In every respect, these hard-working, patriotic men deserve better than to have their well-deserved hours of sleep rudely interrupted by late-night “boy-racer” hooligans – they simply shouldn’t have to tolerate it. If only for their nocturnal benefit, serious police control measures – rather than “enforcement theatre” – are long overdue.