Thu, Feb 14, 2013 - Page 1 News List

New regulations to curtail drivers from watching television

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Starting this summer, drivers will need to have their on-board entertainment facilities interlocked with their car’s braking system before their vehicles can pass their annual inspections.

Under the Road Traffic Security Rules (道路交通安全規則) amended by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications at the end of 2011, car drivers are banned from watching or operating television or digital video players while driving. The ministry said the change was made amid growing concern that drivers would have difficulty concentrating on the road if they are watching TV while driving.

While the rules do not list fines for violations, the ministry said that drivers could be fined if they are deemed dangerous drivers.

Starting in July, vehicle inspection officers will check if on-board entertainment facilities are interlocked with the braking system, with the exception of global positioning system (GPS) units or TVs for backseat passengers. On-board TV screens should automatically shut down if the gearshift is in drive or reverse, the ministry said. The amendments also require car manufacturers to interlock the on-board entertainment facilities and braking system for new cars.

For cars manufactured before the amendments took effect, the ministry said it reached a consensus with manufacturers that the design of on-board entertainment devices could be changed for free if the facilities were part of the vehicles when they were sold. However, if car owners added the devices themselves, they will have to pay to alter the system.

In other news, the National Freeway Bureau estimated that about 2.8 million vehicles traveled on the freeways yesterday, with about 1.6 million vehicles in the northbound lanes. About 460,000 vehicles in both the northbound and southbound freeway lanes took advantage of the toll-free hours between 12am and 7am, three times the daily average.

The bureau said northbound traffic would be heavy today, and the high occupancy vehicle policy would be implemented on certain northbound sections of freeway Nos. 1, 3 and 5.

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