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LCQ1: Regulation of modified vehicles

     Following is a question by the Hon Miriam Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (October 28):

     It has been reported that quite a number of vehicles involved in numerous traffic accidents in recent years were suspected to be modified vehicles (commonly known as "reassembled cars") which had been assembled with parts dismantled from different vehicles.  Due to the low prices of these vehicles, they are very popular with young people and those who have just been issued a driving licence.  However, such types of vehicles do not offer adequate protection and cannot withstand the impact on being hit, resulting in serious injuries and deaths of motorists and passengers as well as complete destruction of the vehicles in the event of accidents.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the total number of road traffic accidents involving reassembled cars in each of the past five years, the resultant casualties and the ages of the reassembled cars concerned;

(b) whether it had, in the past five years, assessed if there was an upward trend in the number of reassembled cars in Hong Kong; if it had, of the assessment results; if not, whether it will consider conducting the relevant assessment;

(c) what measures the authorities have at present to regulate reassembled cars; whether they will study strengthening the regulation of such vehicles, so as to safeguard the safety of consumers and motorists; and

(d) whether the Transport Department had, in the past five years, discovered any reassembled cars through the arrangement which requires private cars to undergo examinations at designated car testing centres; if it had, of the number and ages of such vehicles; if not, whether it will plan to review the arrangement concerned, so as to strengthen the regulation of reassembled cars?

Reply :


     My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows -
(a) If the body frame of a vehicle is assembled by welding of various parts and the strength of the welding joints is below that of the original car, in the event of a collision, the welds are prone to be broken apart with smooth cuts.  According to the records of the Transport Department (TD) and the Police for the last five years, the bodies of private cars breaking apart in serious traffic accidents (including those severely damaged in accidents took place at Texaco Road in 2007 and the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2009) were not assembled by welded body parts.  The resultant splits were coarse tears instead of smooth cuts, unlike the damage done on the so-called "reassembled cars".

(b),(c)&(d) To ensure that all vehicles are safe and roadworthy, regulation 5(1) of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374A) stipulates that every vehicle, including all body work and fittings, shall be soundly and properly constructed of suitable materials.  The TD will not issue licences to vehicles that do not meet the requirement.

     At present, all private cars aged six years or more from the year of manufacture are required to receive and pass the annual vehicle examination in order to obtain a Certificate of Roadworthiness for licence renewal.  The annual examination covers tests and checks on body work, braking system, steering system, tyres, on-board safety equipment, etc.  If the vehicle examiner finds any unusual signs of body welding, follow-up actions will be taken to ensure that the vehicle is safe; otherwise, the vehicle concerned cannot pass the examination for its licence renewal.  Moreover, the Police conduct frequent random roadside checks on private cars travelling on the road.  They will take follow-up actions or institute prosecution if non-compliance with the statutory requirements on body work is identified.

     Furthermore, section 53 of Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) stipulates that no person shall alter a motor vehicle so as to render its condition such that the use thereof on a road would contravene any provision of that Ordinance as to the construction, weight, equipment, brakes, steering gear or tyres thereof.  Any person who contravenes the provision commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $20,000.  The TD has also issued guidelines to remind car owners to obtain approval and supporting evidence from the vehicle manufacturer or a qualified person (e.g. registered engineer) if they wish to alter the chassis frame or vehicle structure so as to ensure compliance of their vehicles with the statutory requirements after repairs.

     Over the past five years, the TD had not suspended any private cars from driving on the road because of body work problems identified in the annual examination.  During their inspection on private cars involved in serious traffic accidents, the Police had not found any vehicles damaged with smooth cuts rather than coarse tears as a result of collision.  As for random roadside checks on private cars, the Police had not come across any reassembled cars in their records.

     We consider the current control measures adequate.  Having said that, we will continue to closely monitor the structural safety of vehicles and review the regulatory arrangement where necessary.

Ends/Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Issued at HKT 13:57


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