LCQ18: Wearing of rear seat belts under review


Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport, Mr Nicholas Ng, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question : On January 7 this year, a serious traffic accident involving a container truck and a van occurred on the Texaco Road Flyover in Tsuen Wan, resulting in five deaths and one injury. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) if it has assessed whether the design of the flyover concerned is in compliance with safety standards;

(b) if it has assessed whether the flyover concerned and connecting road sections have clear and adequate signage to facilitate motorists in recognising the directions of traffic;

(c) of the number of existing dual-way two-lane flyovers in the territory, and how the number of traffic accidents on such type of flyovers in the past three years compares with the numbers of traffic accidents on other types of flyovers; and

(d) if it has assessed whether the chances of casualties can be reduced in accidents if passengers in the rear seats of vans wear seat belts; if the chances can be reduced, whether the Administration will consider amending the relevant legislation to require passengers in the rear seats of vans to wear seat belts?

Reply :

Madam President,

(a) The design of the flyover in question is in strict compliance with our current design standards.

(b) The flyover is part of the single two-way carriageway starting from Tsuen Tsing Interchange to Texaco Road North. In accordance with the current design standards, the flyover has a system of double white lines in the middle together with chevron markings at both entries to separate the two lanes running in opposite directions. A site inspection made after the accident on January 7, 1999 revealed that the double white lines and chevron markings are clear and should be easily noticeable to drivers.

(c) There are at present 51 two lane - two way flyovers in Hong Kong. As the Government does not maintain accident statistics by the types of flyovers, no comparison can be made between the accident rates of the two lane - two way flyovers and other type of flyovers.

(d) To reduce occupant casualties in vehicles, compulsory wearing of seat belts was first introduced for drivers and front seat passengers of private cars in October 1983. Following the encouraging results of a significant drop in casualties, the requirement was extended to drivers and front seat passengers of taxis and light buses in July 1989 and then to goods vehicles in January 1990. With effect from June 1, 1996, compulsory fitting of seat belts was further extended to rear seats of private cars registered on or after that date. The installation of rear seat belts in private cars has been proved to be effective in reducing injuries to rear seat passengers. The number of rear seat passenger injury cases fell by 17 per cent in the 12-month period immediately following the implementation of the rear seat belt legislation for private cars in June 1996.

The Transport Bureau started a review in September 1998 to consider extending the requirement to wear rear seat belts to other types of vehicles. We expect the review to be completed soon.

End/Wednesday, January 27, 1999