LCQ18: Measures to reduce traffic accidents involving taxis
It has been reported that in January this year, an 87-year old taxi driver was involved in three traffic accidents in just nine days, and in the most serious case, the taxi concerned side-turned and a passenger was injured and taken to the hospital. There are views pointing out that the increasingly serious problems of ageing taxi drivers and manpower shortage have impacted on the provision of taxi service and posed potential safety hazards. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the figures in each of the past two years and since January this year regarding (a) the number of traffic accidents involving taxis and (b) the percentage of such number in the overall number of traffic accidents, together with a breakdown by (i) the vehicle age group to which the taxis concerned belonged (i.e. below 10 years, 10 to 19 years, 20 years or above) and (ii) the age group to which the taxi drivers concerned belonged (i.e. aged below 30, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, 70 to 79, 80 or above);
(2) of the corresponding measures taken in the past five years by the Government to deal with problems concerning ageing, manpower shortage and driving safety issues of taxi drivers, and whether it has assessed the effectiveness of such measures; and
(3) whether it has looked into ways to facilitate the application of new technologies (e.g. lane keeping warning, automatic emergency braking system, and devices that could monitor drivers' condition and driving behavior) among the taxi trade, with a view to reducing traffic accidents involving taxis?
Our reply to the Hon Tony Tse's question is as follows:
(1) The number of traffic accidents involving taxis and the proportion of such number to the overall number of traffic accidents from 2021 to January this year are set out below:
|Number of traffic accidents involving taxis
(its proportion to the overall number of traffic accidents)
|4 153 cases
|3 632 cases
Note: The above figures are compiled based on the information obtained by the Transport Department (TD).
Pursuant to the above table, the breakdown of the number of traffic accidents involving taxis by age groups of taxis and age groups of taxi drivers are set out in the two tables below respectively:
|Age groups of taxis involving in traffic accidents||2021||2022||January 2023#|
|Below 10 years||3 418||3 095||258|
|10 to 19 years||849||642||54|
|20 years and above||319||262||21|
Note: The above figures are compiled based on the information obtained by the TD. As a traffic accident may involve more than one taxi, the total number of taxis involving in traffic accidents is greater than the total number of traffic accidents involving taxis in the same year.
|Age groups of taxi drivers involving in traffic accidents||2021||2022||January 2023#|
|Below 30 years old||73||68||7|
|30 to 39 years old||326||301||35|
|40 to 49 years old||658||618||49|
|50 to 59 years old||1 457||1 088||71|
|60 to 69 years old||1 637||1 446||130|
|70 to 79 years old||405||431||34|
|80 years old and above||13||23||2|
Note: The above figures are compiled based on the information obtained by the TD. As a traffic accident may involve more than one taxi driver, the total number of taxi drivers involving in traffic accidents is greater than the total number of traffic accidents involving taxis in the same year.
(2) The Government has been closely monitoring the operation of taxis and has adopted various measures to alleviate the problems and operational difficulties faced by the trade in different aspects. To attract more new blood to join the taxi industry, the Government has relaxed the requirement for applying a commercial vehicle (including taxi) driving licence since October 1, 2020, from the original requirement that the applicant must have held a driving licence of private car or light goods vehicle for at least three years to at least one year. Besides, the TD has also enhanced the taxi written test with effect from February 14, 2020, including adjusting the content, number of questions and passing criteria such that the examination can better suit the practical needs, with a view to attracting more new comers who are interested in joining the taxi trade and thereby alleviating the problem of manpower shortage in the trade.
To enhance the safety and quality of taxi services, since October 1, 2020, apart from passing the relevant driving exams, all applicants for a full taxi driving licence must study and complete the pre-service course at the pre-service training schools designated by the Commissioner for Transport and obtain the course certificate, in addition to passing the relevant driving exams, within one year preceding the date of application before they can be issued with a full driving licence. The course covers knowledge of driving safety and road safety which help enhance the taxi drivers' awareness of driving safety. To ensure the effectiveness of the course, a student must study and complete the entire course (with 100 per cent attendance), show satisfactory performance in class (including being attentive and actively participating in class and group discussions) and pass the written test at the end of the course, so as to obtain the course certificate issued by the relevant pre-service training school and be issued a full taxi driving licence. During the period from October 1, 2020 to February 28, 2023, a total of 10 338 students attended the relevant courses, among which 10 209 students completed the courses and obtained the course certificates. The TD will continue to monitor the implementation of the pre-service courses for taxi drivers.
Besides, having regard to the increasing operating costs of taxis as well as lower meter revenue and rental revenue due to the epidemic, the new taxi fares have been implemented since July 17, 2022. As gathered by the TD through regular taximeter reading as well as surveys from taxi owners and trade associations, it is observed that the financial viability of taxi operation has improved generally for urban, New Territories, Lantau taxis since the last fare increase. This should be conducive to attracting new blood into the taxi industry.
(3) The Government has always been open-minded about innovation and technologies that can effectively improve road and driving safety, and welcomes the introduction of driver assistance systems and safety devices by vehicle manufacturers for various classes of vehicles. The TD has been in contact with various vehicle manufacturers and encouraging them to install anti-collision system on various taxi models, so as to enhance the overall safety standard of the taxi trade and reduce the number of traffic accidents.
In addition, the Government has been encouraging the trade to apply for the Smart Traffic Fund. The Fund is set up to provide funding support to local organisations or enterprises for conducting research and application of vehicle-related innovation and technology, the scope of which also covers projects which aims to improve driving safety through the application of technology. To date, the Fund has approved three projects relating to taxi driving safety with an aim to improving driving safety and driving habits of drivers. These projects include the trial of installing driving safety monitoring systems on taxis to monitor the driving condition and behavior of drivers, so that alerts may be sent to the drivers when necessary. The TD will closely monitor the trial results of various projects. Subject to the effectiveness of the trials, the TD will encourage more taxis to install such systems to improve driving safety.
Apart from the trial projects under the Smart Traffic Fund, the TD understands that the taxi trade has been participating in testing different anti-collision warning devices, lane keeping warning devices and devices that could monitor drivers' condition and driving behaviour. The TD will continue to communicate closely with the taxi trade for identifying suitable safety devices for installation on taxis.
Ends/Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:50
Issued at HKT 11:50