Fri, May 09, 2014 - Page 3 News List

MOTC aims to cut traffic deaths

ROAD WORK:A goal to reduce deaths by 3 to 5 percent per year drove the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and local officials to pledge a safety push

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said it aims to reduce the deaths from traffic accidents by 3 to 5 percent each year and slow the increase in the number of injuries within two years.

The goal was unveiled in a convention at the Taipei Expo Park yesterday, where central and local government officials pledged to enhance road safety nationwide.

Ministry statistics showed that the nation had more than 20 million registered motor vehicles last year. While the number of traffic fatalities dropped from 3,140 in 2006 to 1,928 last year, the number of injuries caused by traffic accidents exceeded 300,000 each year between 2011 and last year and shows signs of gradually increasing.

The ministry also found that more than 90 percent of the traffic accidents happened because the drivers lacked an awareness of road risks and driving ethics.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) said that though the deaths caused by traffic accidents have dropped significantly, the number of accidents was still higher than in most advanced countries.

“The death or injury of an individual not only affects the person, but also their family and society,” Yeh said. “Reducing traffic accidents should be a goal we need to work on constantly.”

Yeh said the massive road safety campaign would target four groups: motorcyclists, older drivers, cyclists and drivers of special vehicles. The last category includes drivers of tour buses, gravel trucks or large vehicles carrying dangerous items.

“About 70 to 80 percent of the accidents involve motorcycles and one-fourth of the accidents involve the elderly,” Yeh said. “People are shocked and scared when they hear about accidents involving tour buses. Cyclists should observe the traffic rules, too, as there are more of them on the streets.”

Beyond decreasing deaths at a rate of 3 percent or 5 percent per year, the ministry also aims to reduce total fatalities to below 1,500 by 2020.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said that each death in an accident is another tragedy for a family. He described how a conversation he had with a borough warden six months ago helped improve the traffic facilities in the city.

“He told me that his mother passed away last year after being hit by a reckless driver. The cause of the accident was that the traffic signals were blocked by a tree and the driver did not follow the traffic rules either. Instead of becoming passive, the borough warden became more aware of the traffic facilities. I was impressed by what he said in that meeting. We, as government workers, should consider the needs of the people, because we could be held responsible for any tragedy for failing to improve the infrastructure,” Hau said.

Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), a former head of the ministry, said that the number of the deaths had dropped below 2,000 last year, but traffic accidents per capita were three time higher than that of Japan.

He shared a story of how a friend was hit by a car two days ago and died.

“He was a doctor and was all ready for an appointment,” Mao said. “Instead of using the pedestrian crossing, he crossed the street directly from the bus stop near National Taiwan University.”

“Enhancing the road safety is like doing a good deed,” Mao added. “Judging from statistics, we still have a lot of room to improve.”

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