Taipei City Department of Transportation’s latest plan to launch a driving course program for scooter drivers hoping to get a driver’s license came under fire yesterday, as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilors accused the department of finding fault with scooter drivers and benefiting private driving schools.
Chang Sheng-wan (張生萬), a senior specialist at the department, said that because more scooter drivers are injured or die in traffic accidents than car drivers, the department plans to work with three local driving training centers to offer a 16-hour driving course for NT$6,000 to Taipei residents who want to obtain a driver’s license.
The department plans to propose the program to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in December, with the goal of making the driving course a requirement for people who want to take a scooter driver’s license test, he said.
DPP Taipei City Councilor Liang Wen-jie (梁文傑) and Wu Su-yao (吳思瑤) yesterday criticized the program for seemingly placing the blame on scooter drivers for traffic accidents and possibly benefiting private driving schools with high course fees.
“It is a misconception that driving a scooter is more dangerous [than driving a car] because car drivers cause more traffic accidents and the overall number of casualties is higher than among scooter drivers. Why won’t the department make the driving course a requirement for car drivers, too?” Liang said.
Citing data from the Taipei City Traffic Police Division, Liang said that there were 740,000 cars and 1 million scooters registered in Taipei last year, and that more than 870,000 traffic accidents were caused by cars, while scooter drivers were responsible for 510,000 accidents.
A total of 55 car drivers died as a result of traffic accidents they caused, while 23 scooter drivers died as a result of the accidents they caused, the data showed.
Wu said the department would be discriminating against scooter drivers by forcing them to take driving courses and said Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin’s (郝龍斌) failure to keep his promise of improving road conditions could be the biggest cause of traffic accidents.
“Many scooter drivers are young people or people whose economic situation is not good, since riding a scooter is more cost-efficient than driving a car. The driving course would create a financial burden for this group,” she added.
Chang said the program’s aim was to give driving tips to scooter drivers, but promised to discuss the issue with the ministry before finalizing the program.