About 8,000 people have been issued tickets for using smartphones, tablet computers or other handheld electronic devices while driving between January and last month, statistics released yesterday by the National Police Agency (NPA) show.
“Since amendments to the Act Governing Punishments for Violations of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例) prohibiting the use of handheld devices while driving took effect in January, police nationwide have given out 8,053 tickets for violations as of last month,” Deputy Minister of the Interior Hsiao Chia-chi (蕭家淇) told a news conference at the ministry yesterday, citing NPA figures.
“Most of the violations occurred in metropolitan areas, including Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市), and Greater Kaohsiung,” he said.
“Breaking down the number, over 90 percent — or 7,851 — of the violations involved the use of mobile phones either for talking or using apps, while 102 involved use of computers, and 100 involved using other handheld devices, such as browsing pictures on digital cameras while driving,” Hsiao said.
Among the cases which received tickets, 4,769 were scooter or motorcycle riders, and 3,284 were car drivers, which is “probably because it’s easier for car drivers to hide their handheld devices,” the deputy minister said.
Hsiao also said that from January to March, 30,865 people were caught driving under the influence of alcohol, but only 11,694 were fined or indicted for causing a public hazard.
“The police recorded 3,699 more violations than in the same period of last year. However, the number of violators fined or indicted dropped by 954,” the deputy minister said.
“This shows that the police are putting more effort into catching drunk drivers, but many of them were not penalized because their blood-alcohol level did not exceed the legal limit,” he added.
While saying it is a good sign that some drunk drivers are not drinking as much before driving, Deputy NPA Director-General Ho Hai-min (何海民) urged all drivers to completely avoid alcohol before driving.
“We would like to especially remind drivers that, since March 1, the maximum fine for driving under the influence of alcohol has increased to NT$90,000, and those who do not stop at a sobriety checkpoint or refuse to take a sobriety test would also be fined NT$90,000,” Ho said.