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Traffic and road safety in Hong Kong

Hong Kong drivers still failing to take proper precautions to avoid parked cars from rolling downhill, study finds

  • The report, conducted by elected representatives from the DAB, found 87 per cent of cars parked on sloping roads did not have their front wheels turned
  • The study was carried out in the week following an accident in which a school bus rolled down a hill and killed four people
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 9:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 10:17pm

Almost nine in 10 Hong Kong drivers still fail to take proper precautions when they park their vehicles on a slope, even after a fatal incident in which a school bus slid down a slope and killed four people last week, a study has found.

The results of the study, announced by a lawmaker and district councillors on Tuesday, showed that 87 per cent of vehicles parked on slopes on the Hong Kong Island did not have their front wheels turned – a measure intended to cushion the impact of a rolling vehicle.

Call for parking restrictions after bus rolls down slope and kills four

Among a total of 137 vehicles observed, only 18 had their steering wheels turned.

The survey came after an empty school bus rolled 100 metres down a North Point street on December 10 after the bus driver was suspected to have failed to apply the handbrake properly, according to police.

An 80-year-old woman died at the scene, while three others died in hospital. Eleven people were injured.

The survey was conducted by lawmaker Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) on December 15 and 16.

They observed sloped roads in the eastern, southern, central and western districts as well as Wan Chai.

According to Stanley Hung Lin-cham, a member of Eastern District Council, eight out of nine road accidents involving sloped roads in Hong Kong since 2008 occurred on Hong Kong Island.

Despite the risk of accidents, Cheung did not expect a total ban on parking on sloped roads, given the potential impact on nearby businesses and residents.

“It is not feasible to impose a total ban on parking on sloping roads. We understand that such a ban could affect nearby businesses and logistics,” said Cheung.

Rather than a ban, Cheung called on the public to raise safety awareness and urged the government to step up measures on sloped roads to prevent accidents.

Samuel Mok Kam-sum, community officer of the DAB’s central and western branch, urged drivers to follow the code of parking on sloping roads.

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According to the Transport Department’s guide on parking on slopes, when parking downhill, motorists should turn the steering wheel to the left.

Likewise, when parking facing uphill, drivers should halt close to the kerb and leave the front wheels turned to the right.

According to the Road Traffic (Parking) Regulations, any person who causes or permits a vehicle to remain at rest on a road in such a position or in such condition or in such circumstances as to be likely to cause danger to other persons using the road commits an offence and is liable to a fine of HK$2,000 (US$256).

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The department should provide clearer, easy-to-understand parking guides on its website and use short videos to illustrate the process, said Suki Chan Wing-yan, community officer of the DAB’s southern branch.

Chan added that the department should step up safety measures on high-risk roads, such as paving with anti-slip materials, strengthening barriers to cushion head-on impacts, and reinforcing law enforcement for violations of parking on sloped roads.

Cheung said a lack of relevant regulations and laws as well as lenient punishment cannot deter dangerous parking behaviour.