Legislative Council Panel on Transport
Measures To Combat Speeding
This paper seeks Members' views on a package of proposals to combat speeding.BACKGROUND
2. Speeding remains a significant problem in Hong Kong. From 1996 to 1998, the Police on average took out about 200,000 prosecutions by way of fixed penalty tickets annually for speeding offences, representing 9% of the total number of fixed penalty tickets issued. With the opening of new expressways, the problem of speeding on expressways has become more acute. The number of speeding offences on expressways rose sharply by 60% in 1997 and 103% in 1998. Statistics on prosecutions and accidents involving speeding are at Annex A.
3. It is believed that the following factors have contributed to commitment of speeding offences -
- with the advent in road design and construction and improved performance of motor vehicles, the existing speed limit of some of our roads may have become too low;
- current methods of enforcement against speeding offences only allow small road coverage and limited effectiveness; and
- the demerit points relating to speeding offences have not been revised since 1982 whereas the fines on speeding offences have not been revised since 1994. They may have lost some of their deterrent effect.
4. The Transport Bureau has stated in the 1998 Policy Objective our intention to introduce measures to improve conditions for road users. As part of the package, we have been considering the following measures -
(A) Review of Speed Limit
- to conduct a comprehensive review of the speed limit of major roads and expressways;
- to improve the method of enforcement on speeding offences;
- to review penalties for speeding offences; and
- to strengthen community education and publicity on speeding.
5. The speed limit imposed on a road is the maximum speed that is legally allowed which must not be exceeded at any time. Section 40(1) of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) imposes a general speed limit on all roads at 50km/hr, unless the Commissioner for Transport specifies a different speed limit by a notice in the Gazette. On roads where limits exceeding 70km/hr are allowed, Section 40(5) of the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374) imposes a maximum speed limit on medium goods vehicles, heavy goods vehicles and buses at 70km/hr.
6. Speed limits on our roads vary with the type of roads. The limits are 50km/hr for the vast majority of urban roads, 70 or 80km/hr for rural and urban trunk roads and 80 or 100km/hr for expressways. In our review, we have considered streamlining the structure of the speed limit categorisation and have concluded that there should be three main categories -
- low band : 50km/hr;
- middle band : 70km/hr or 80km/hr; and
- high band : 100km/hr or higher.
7. The criteria in determining the speed limit of a road are set out in the Transport Planning and Design Manual which are drawn up on the basis of internationally accepted highway design and engineering practices. These criteria include -
- The type of roads such as expressways, primary distributors or urban roads.
- Geometric design standards such as gradient, alignment and width.
- Road surface characteristics e.g. skidding resistance and texture depth of the surface material.
- Other design features such as frontage access, grade separated junctions, parking, stopping, loading and unloading restrictions.
8. The speed limit of all new roads are reviewed within 2 years after commissioning and then every 3 to 6 years thereafter. Speed limits may be adjusted upwards or downwards having regard to the following factors -
- the original design speed;
- the number and nature of accidents on the road;
- the actual average speed of vehicles travelling on the road; and
- changes in road characteristics which might lead to a change in pedestrian and vehicular flow.
The objective of such reviews is to ensure that a right balance is struck between traffic flow and road safety.
9. The Transport Department is conducting a review of the major roads and expressways in the territory. The review comprises three phases. Phase I and II have been completed and Phase III is expected to conclude in mid-1999. Recommendations of the first two phases are at Annex B for reference. The preliminary findings suggest that there is scope to relax the speed limit on some of our roads.
10. As far as possible, one single speed limit will be applied to a road. In the circumstances where the road is of considerable length and it is not practicable to maintain one speed limit for the entire road, big speed limit repeater signs will be introduced to forewarn motorists of any abrupt change in speed ahead of 20km/hr or more.
(B) Review of Enforcement Methods
11. Fully automated Speeding Enforcement Cameras have been installed at Tolo Highway and Fanling Highway. The cameras will put long sections of the two expressways under 24-hour surveillance and substantially enhance deterrent effects and enforcement capabilities. We have plans to install similar systems along the Eastern Corridor, Tuen Mun Road and North Lantau Highway in the next three years.
12. The conventional speed enforcement devices like laser gun and radar require manual operation. A team of two Police officers will be required to cover a short section of road and for only a short duration. We are reviewing the manning requirements to identify possible efficiency gains.
13. The Speed Enforcement Camera only automates the detection part of the enforcement process. The prosecution part (identification of drivers, issue of fixed penalty tickets and paper work for court proceedings if necessary) will continue to be handled normally by the Police. On average, it took about three months to process a speeding case. The Government is examining the feasibility of further automation to provide an integrated processing system that will lead to improvements in the law enforcement process.
(C) Review Of Fixed Penalties And Demerit-Offence Points
14. Under Section 41 of the Road Traffic Ordinance, speeding is punishable by a maximum fine of $4000. Over 98% of speeding offences are punished by way of fixed penalties and demerit points, as follows -
|Offence||Fixed penalty||Demerit points
|Driving in excess of speed limit15km/h||$320||0
|Driving in excess of speed limit > 15 but 30km/h||$450||3
|Driving in excess of speed limit > 30 but 45km/h||$450 5
|Driving in excess of speed limit > 45km/h||$450||8
15. The demerit points were set in 1982. The fixed penalties were last adjusted in 1994. In our review, we have considered the need to update the penalties, with regard to the following principle -
- the system should be simple and easy to understand;
- it should provide sufficient deterrent effect; and
- penalties should be commensurate with the severity of offences including disqualification and summons for more severe cases.
16. It is proposed that the category of offences should be refined from the present 15km interval to 10km intervals. Fines should also be updated. Two options for revising demerit points have been considered -
||Fixed Penalties||Proposed Demerit Points
|Option A||Option B
|Driving in excess of speed limit 10km/h||$400||0||1
|Driving in excess of speed limit > 10 but20km/h||$600||3||4
|Driving in excess of speed limit > 20 but30km/h||$800||6||7
|Driving in excess of speed limit > 30 but40km/h||$1,000||10||10
|Driving in excess of speed limit > 40km/h||summon||disquali-fication||disquali-fication
17. In setting the appropriate levels of demerit points in respect of different levels of speed, there are two proposed structures. Option A simply lowers the existing "no point" threshold limit from 15 km/h to 10 km/h. This approach is based on the existing system which imposes no demerit point on drivers of less severe speeding cases. A more stringent approach is at Option B which discards this "no point" threshold by imposing different levels of demerit points on all drivers. Such an approach will further strength the deterrent effect, but could attract criticisms from some road users, particularly professional drivers, of being too harsh. In addition, disqualification and summons have been included in the more severe cases.
18. We will be consulting interested parties including the various transport trade on these proposals before taking a view on how to go forward.
(D) Publicity and Education
19. Enforcement apart, much needs to be done in publicity and community education. We need to increase the awareness amongst the general public that the risk of collision climbs sharply with every kilometer in excess of the legal speed limit. The Government will continue to spread the message against speeding through a proactive publicity programme which includes APIs and campaigns. In 1998, speeding was included as one of the priority messages in our Road Safety Campaign and will again be featured prominently in the 1999 campaign. We are also reviewing how best to strengthen community involvement in our road safety initiatives through the Road Safety Council.
20. As part of the efforts to increase community education on safe driving, we are also exploring the feasibility of introducing a Driver Improvement Scheme to improve driving behaviour and altitude for drivers who have committed minor traffic offences e.g. speeding in excess of speed limit by a certain margin. The concept is that the Scheme may be used either as an alternative to prosecution or to supplement enforcement actions. Details of the Scheme are still under consideration.
21. Members' views are invited on the proposed package to combat speeding as set out in paragraphs 5 to 20.