In a bid to put a stop to illegal car racing, the Executive Yuan is studying the possibility of amending traffic regulations to allow racing on certain sections of public roads and encouraging the private sector to build more race tracks.
"It would make sense to open certain sections of public roads for car racing because the traffic code allows authorized organizers to hold such activities as marathons, biking or New Year celebrations, on certain sections of the public roads," said an official at the Ministry of Justice, who asked not to be named.
To make such activity safer, the official said certain revisions would have to be made to the Road Traffic Management and Punishment Law (道路交通管理處罰條例).
"To protect the safety of spectators and racers, we have to make sure that the section of the road used for car racing is effectively blocked, the commercial losses of the stores within the restricted areas is adequately compensated and the qualification of the event organizers is clearly specified," he said.
At present, motorists caught racing on public roads face fines of between NT$30,000 and NT$90,000, and could have their licenses revoked or their vehicles impounded.
Owners of souped-up vehicles can also be fined if any of their vehicle parts are not genuine factory items, including engines, headlights, directional signals, mufflers, suspension parts and even brake calipers and pads.
Repeat offenders face criminal punishments and can be listed as a hooligan.
Another possibility to stem illegal racing, which is very popular during summer vacations, is to establish safe and comfortable racing tracks, the official said.
"Although we know that the establishment of legal race tracks may not completely eradicate the problem of illegal racing, they would at least provide youngsters with the opportunity to engage in a healthy sport activity and teach them safe driving skills," the official said.
There is only one legal race track for cars and motorcycles in the country and seven mini-racing car facilities nationwide.
A race track in Yunlin County is scheduled to become operational next February.
Commenting on the Cabinet proposal, K. J. Yeung (楊光榮), chairman of the Chinese Taipei Motor Sports Association (中華賽車會), said opening certain sections of public roads for car racing is feasible, if safety is safeguarded.
"I thought it might be a good idea to let a legal private organization with credibility and experience in car racing coordinate such events because they're well aware of the safety regulations and emergency measures," he said.
According to Yeung, his association has been trying to win permission to use public roads for car racing events over the past few years, but to no avail.
"Legal car racing and illegal street racing are very different ball games," Yeung said. "While licensed car racers play by the rules and respect their lives and those of others, illegal racers race on at the spur of the moment and at the expense of other peoples' lives."