Tue, Jan 11, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Taipei requires backseat belts in taxis

IGNORING THE LAWS:Although most taxi drivers have either not installed or hidden their backseat seat belts, current law requires that the equipment be present in sedans

By Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporter

Taxi drivers operating in Taipei will be required to have safety belts installed in the backseats of their vehicles or will have their vehicle permits revoked, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said yesterday after Nora Sun (孫穗芬), a granddaughter of Republic of China (ROC) founding father Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), was severely injured in a car accident on New Year’s Day.

Sun, who was sitting in the backseat of a sedan, was not wearing her safety belt when the car driven by her friend was hit by a sedan coming from the opposite side of the Jianguo Overpass. Sun, who had returned to Taiwan to attend the Taipei International Flora Expo, was on her way to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to take a flight to Hong Kong at the time of the accident.

She remains in the hospital as of press time.

Before the legislature passes amendments to the Act Governing the Punishment of Violation of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例) to make it mandatory for backseat passengers to wear safety belts, Hau said the city government would require that taxi drivers ensure that safety belts in the backseats of their cabs are properly installed and that backseat passengers buckle up.

Under the present law, all motor vehicles registered after July 1, 1991, must have safety belts installed in the front and sedans must have safety belts installed in both the front and back. Although it is mandatory for passengers in the front to wear a safety belt, the rule does not apply to those sitting in the back.

Hau said the city would take a two-pronged approach to address the problem. The first step would be to launch roadside checks, while the second would be to launch a promotional campaign to educate the public about the new measure. The city would also hand out promotional stickers to taxi drivers before the Lunar New Year so they can post them inside their vehicles, he said.

Starting today, all taxis operating in Taipei City are subject to roadside checks to ensure that safety belts are installed in their backseats.

Taxi drivers found without backseat seat belts in their cabs must install them within one month or face a fine of NT$1,300 under the current traffic code, said Jason Lin (林志盈), commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation.

The equipment must pass inspections at the Motor Vehicles Office rather than at certified inspection centers, he said, adding that taxi drivers have six months to comply or they will have their vehicle permits revoked.

Because legislators have just begun their winter break, Lin said he hoped they would pass the legal revisions as soon as possible when they meet again.

As for other drivers, Yu Wai-bing (余偉斌), deputy commissioner of the Motor Vehicles Office, said daily roadside checks would not be applied to them. Since they must have their vehicles examined every six months or every year, the office would ensure certified inspection centers inspect their safety belts, he said.

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