Mon, Jul 11, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Backseat seat-belt law to take effect next month: MOTC

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The seat-belt requirement for backseat passengers in sedans will officially come into force next month, but police will not start fining drivers until February next year, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said last week.

Lin Fu-shan (林福山), a section chief at the Department of Railways and Highways, said the ministry had decided to give the public a six-month grace period to adjust to the new regulations.

Regarding the requirement for booster seats for children, the ministry will allow a one-year grace period and will not start penalizing drivers until Aug. 1 next year.

When driving on regular roads, drivers will be fined NT$1,500 if passengers in the backseat do not buckle up. The penalty will be between NT$3,000 and NT$6,000 on expressways or freeways.

Lin said the regulation was not designed to punish motorists, but rather to make the public aware of the importance of fastening seat belts even when they are sitting in the backseats.

Meanwhile, Lin said the -Directorate-General of Highways would also start listing seat belts in the backseats as one of the items to check during annual inspections at motor vehicle departments around the nation. Those without seat belts in the backseats might have to install them.

Statistics for 2006 and 2007 from the National Police Agency show that drivers and front seat passengers were 3.6 times more likely to die in a traffic accident if they did not wear a seat belt.

A study in the US also shows that backseat passengers who do not buckle up were about 2.7 times more likely to die in an accident, Lin said.

Taxi drivers will not be fined if they have fully informed their customers about the seat-belt requirement, whether the message is communicated through written or audio notices or by verbal instructions, Lin said.

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), which mandates that drivers could be punished if passengers sitting in the backseat do not buckle up, 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 seat belts 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 (孫穗芬), in a car accident earlier this year. Reports said she was in the backseat and had not fastened her seat belt.

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