LCQ6: Use of mobile phones while driving
To enhance road safety, the Government implemented legislation in 2000 to prohibit drivers from using mobile phone by holding it in their hands or between their heads and shoulders while the vehicle is in motion, and extended the legislation in 2001 to cover the use of other hand-held telecommunications equipment. I have received quite a number of complaints from members of the public that incidents of drivers contravening the aforesaid legislation while driving has become more common in recent years. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has studied the reasons why the aforesaid illicit acts have become more common in recent years; if so, of the outcome, and whether such reasons include the failure of the authorities to take law enforcement actions vigorously; if it has not studied, the reasons for that;
(2) of (i) the number of cases in which prosecutions were instituted against drivers for such illicit acts and (ii) the number of persons prosecuted in each of the past five years; the (iii) general and (iv) maximum penalties imposed on the convicted persons;
(3) of the number of repeated offenders among the convicted persons mentioned in (2), and the highest number of times for which they repeated the offences;
(4) whether it will consider increasing the relevant penalties to enhance the deterrent effect; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(5) whether it has plans to step up promotional and educational efforts with a view to improving drivers' safety awareness and driving attitude, thereby eradicating such illicit acts; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My consolidated reply to the Hon Wong Ting-kwong's question is as follows.
Under section 42 of the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations (Cap. 374G), if a motor vehicle being driven by a driver is in motion, he shall not use a mobile telephone while holding it in his hand or between his head and shoulder, or use any other telecommunications equipment or any accessory to such a mobile telephone or such equipment while holding it in his hand. A driver who contravenes the section is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $2,000. The Police may also issue a fixed penalty notice pursuant to the Fixed Penalty (Criminal Proceedings) Ordinance (Cap. 240) imposing a fine of $450.
The table below sets out the numbers of cases, in each of the past five years, where the Police instituted prosecution against a driver who, whilst driving, used a mobile telephone while holding it in his hand or between his head and shoulder, or used any other telecommunications equipment or any accessory to such a mobile telephone or such equipment while holding it in his hand:
|28 762||27 254||22 015||22 270||17 749|
The Police have not maintained any data on the numbers of persons involved in the prosecution cases above, the penalties imposed on conviction, the recidivism rate, and the highest number of times the offenders repeated the offences.
Data of the Transport Department show that in the past five years there were only three traffic accidents involving death or injury relating to drivers using mobile telephones whilst driving. The Government will continue to closely monitor the prosecution statistics, accident trends and other factors, and will review the penalties for the relevant offences where necessary.
The Government attaches great importance to promoting road safety through publicity and educational efforts. One of the themes of the publicity campaigns launched by government departments and the Road Safety Council is "driving attentively", which is promoted by means of announcements in the public interest, promotional flyers and carnivals. The message of attentive driving includes a reminder to drivers that, whilst driving, they should not use hand-held mobile devices which hamper their driving. This will continue to be a highlight in the publicity efforts in 2017.
Although the Government has not conducted the type of study referred to in the question of the Hon Wong, we believe that drivers' use of hand-held mobile devices whilst driving is largely a matter of their driving attitude and safety awareness. We will continue to make targeted publicity and educational efforts to change the improper behaviour and attitude of some drivers and to raise their road safety awareness. At the same time, the Police will, according to their "Selected Traffic Enforcement Priorities", continue to accord priority to combating drivers who hold in their hands and use hand-held mobile devices whilst driving, and will step up enforcement action accordingly.
Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Issued at HKT 12:30
Issued at HKT 12:30