Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 2 News List

`Strict' police crackdown on bad driving launches

HIGH DEATH RATE Law enforcement officers will begin using hidden cameras to reduce the number of fatalities on the nation's roads after 4,375 people died in 2005

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Taipei policeman hides behind his patrol car yesterday as he uses a hidden camera while enforcing a ''strict crackdown'' targeting drunk driving, speeding, running red lights, driving on freeway shoulders, driving oversized vehicles, driving slowly in freeway fast lanes and driving large-sized vehicles that block automobile traffic.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Police announced yesterday that they would use hidden cameras in a "strict crackdown" on traffic violations.

The crackdown starts today.

"Drunk driving, serious speeding [40 kph over the speed limit], running red lights, driving on the shoulders of freeways, driving oversized vehicles, driving slowly in freeway fast lanes and large-sized vehicles that block automobile traffic will be the focus of this crackdown," the National Police Bureau said in a press release yesterday.

Hidden cameras will be used to enforce all of the crackdown's targeted violations except for drunk driving, the statement said.

Police officers will gather video footage of traffic violations from their patrol cars and video and still photos from hidden locations, it said.

The bureau noted that in June 2003, one driver attempted to crash a car into the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, while another attempted to crash into Keelung Police Station. Both drivers cited discontent at being fined for violating traffic regulations as their motivation.

"The police crackdown on traffic violations was therefore branded `government robbery' and the police bureau announced in July 2003 that traffic police would no longer use hidden cameras to enforce traffic violations. Since then, traffic police have been required to position themselves in obvious places and wear police uniforms," the statement said.

As a result of the measure, however, the bureau said that although traffic citations had decreased from an average of 20 million per year before 2005 down to 10 million per year in 2005, deaths caused by traffic accidents had risen from 4,322 in 2002 to 4,735 in 2005.

The death toll was projected to reach to 5,000 last year.

The nation's death rate resulting from traffic incidents is higher than that of the US and Japan, the bureau said.

While about 21 individuals per 100,000 people died in traffic accidents in Taiwan last year, the number was about 15 in the US and seven in Japan.

The bureau said there were about 320,000 traffic accidents in 2005 causing 4,735 deaths and 200,000 injuries.

About 640,000 individuals faced administrative, civil or criminal penalties for traffic incidents in 2005, the bureau said.

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