The legislature yesterday gave preliminary approval to a legal amendment that will require backseat passengers in small cars to wear seatbelts, with the driver liable to be fined if they don’t.
The amendment to Article 31 of the Act Governing the Punishment of Violation of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例) mandates that drivers could be punished if passengers sitting in the backseat do not buckle up. However, for taxi services, passengers will be penalized if they refuse to follow the taxi drivers’ verbal and written instructions to fasten their seatbelts.
First proposed by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Chen Chao-long (陳朝龍), the amendment passed a third reading at the legislature in 2006.
However, legislators delayed execution of the policy amid controversy over whether children under the age of four should be required to wear seatbelts and whether drivers or passengers should be fined if the latter refused to buckle up.
The issue again came to national attention after the death of Sun Yat-sen’s (孫逸仙) granddaughter Nora Sun (孫鏸芬) following a car accident earlier this year. Reports said she was in the backseat and had not fastened her seatbelt.
Despite a consensus between the DPP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on the necessity of the measure, lawmakers said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications had to be cautious in executing the policy.
“The aim should be to enhance the safety of passengers, not punish them,” DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said, adding that the ministry should increase its public awareness campaign on the new policy.
KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said the amendment should clearly state drivers’ obligation to require passengers to wear seatbelts.
The ministry said it would initiate a campaign of between one and three months to inform the public of the change in policy before officially implementing it.