Wed, Jun 21, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Suhua Highway to resume two-way traffic

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) is to resume two-way traffic on the Suhua Highway (part of Highway No. 9) at 4pm today, after it at the end of last month began restricting access to one of the nation’s most dangerous highways following landslides caused by torrential rain.

The agency said that access to the section between Yilan County’s Suao (蘇澳) and Donggao (東澳) townships has been restricted since May 28, as landslides kept occurring near the 112.6km marker, making it impossible for a construction crew to approach and clean up the debris.

To address the issue, the DGH first took photographs using a drone to help it gauge the erosion of the slopes.

Five construction crew members were later sent to climb a slope near the 112.6km marker to the mountain’s ridgeline and begin erosion prevention work, the DGH said.

It took the workers — each carrying 40kg of equipment — three hours to climb to the ridgeline, it said.

Other construction workers were mobilized to repair the road damage, it added.

As the work was finished yesterday, the restriction to enter the Suao-Dongao section is to be lifted at 4pm today.

In related news, drivers who turn 75 after Saturday next week will have three years to renew their drivers’ licenses after amendments to the regulations for elderly drivers take effect next month.

Under the new rules, drivers who fail to renew their licenses before they turn 78 or are unwilling to voluntarily hand back their licenses would be fined between NT$1,800 and NT$3,600.

The amendments are in response to concerns over elderly drivers’ safety on the roads, the DGH said, adding that elderly drivers in this age group would soon receive notices to renew their licenses from motor vehicle offices nationwide.

Drivers who turn 75 before Saturday next week can continue driving with their current licenses, but they would be asked to renew them within three months if they violate traffic regulations or if their license is suspended or revoked.

Elderly drivers would need to pass both a physical examination and a cognitive test before they are allowed to renew their licenses, which would be valid for only three years, Motor Vehicle Division director Chen Tsung-chien (陳聰乾) said.

Elderly drivers must pass physical examinations at hospitals or medical institutions certified by the Ministry of Health and Welfare to show that they are not suffering from moderate-to-severe dementia, he said.

They would then have to pass a cognitive test administered by motor vehicle offices nationwide, he said, which would examine their ability to correctly tell the time, and to exercise proper judgement as well as their short-term memory and eye-hand coordination, he said.

When asked why the DGH did not make the license renewal requirement applicable to all drivers aged 75, Chen said the requirement would affect about 600,000 drivers if it was applicable to all drivers in that age group, so the agency decided to apply the new regulations by increments.

The agency estimates that about 73,000 elderly drivers would have to renew their licenses during the first year of the regulatory change.

There is no limit to the number of times that drivers can retake the tests if they do not pass, he said.

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