The Road Traffic Management and Punishment Law (
According to Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Ling-san (
"The installment payment plan would operate under a few conditions. It would be available only to low-income individuals who have committed minor offenses. Furthermore, it would only be applied to fines in excess of a predetermined amount," said Lee Long-wen (李龍文), director-general of the Department of Railways and Highways.
However, legislators yesterday said that the ministry had missed the mark with the installment policies, stating that the real problem lay not so much with payment options as with excessively heavy fines.
"Our traffic laws date from the martial law era. They are outdated and focus mainly on punishment instead of on improving traffic conditions," independent Legislator Sisy Chen (
People First Party Legislator Lee Hung-chiung (
"The traffic laws have only been changed three times since 1997, with each amendment geared primarily toward increasing the fines," Lee said.
He said the number of traffic offenses committed each year has not been affected by the higher fines.
"There were 32 traffic violations for every 10,000 citizens in 1997, but last year there were 49 traffic violations per 10,000 people, despite fine increases," Lee said.
"Excessive fines have proven to be inefficient. We need to reconsider the traffic law with the idea of encouraging optimal traffic conditions instead of focusing on punishment and fines," Lee said.
Lee's criticism comes after the ministry reported on Monday that the government expects to collect NT$6.9 billion in traffic fines in the upcoming fiscal year, NT$535,000 more than last year.
Lee proposed that instead of merely instituting an installment payment plan, the government should consider launching a traffic demerit system which would lead to fines only after a determined number of demerit points had been accumulated within a certain period of time.
Tsai Chung-chih (
"We need to revise our traffic laws so that fines are relevant to the gravity of the violation. For example, violators who slightly exceed the speed limit should be fined less than those who far exceed it," Tsai said.