The legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday slashed NT$2 million (US$65,187) from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications fiscal 2020 budget and froze another one-tenth, citing a lack of perceivable results in its attempts to improve road safety.
The ministry has allotted hundreds of millions of dollars each year to promote road safety, but the death toll from traffic accidents has been steadily growing since 2017, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.
The last traffic order and safety project, the 12th of its kind, aimed to cut the number of people killed by traffic accidents by 500 over three years, or an annual drop of 5 percent, the committee said.
On a monthly basis, mortality and injury rates in 2016 stood at 2,849 and 402,701, or 3.26 percent and 1.51 percent higher respectively compared with 2015, the committee said.
Mortality and injury rates from traffic accidents in 2017 stood at 2,700 and 393,046, or 5.23 percent and 2.40 percent higher respectively when compared with 2015, the committee said.
Last year there was a 2.96 percent and 8.59 percent increase respectively in mortality and injury rates to 2,780 and 426,799, the committee said.
In the first half of this year, there had already been 1,407 deaths and 215,984 injuries, or an increase of 3.38 percent and 3.89 percent respectively when compared with 2017, it said.
DPP Legislator Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) said the 13th project aims to reduce the number of deaths and severe injuries to zero, but the ministry has not proposed any policies geared toward realizing that goal.
The committee could not support budgeting a program that could not achieve its stated goal, Cheng said, adding that he was in favor of slashing 20 percent from the ministry’s budget.
Road Traffic Safety Committee Executive Secretary Hsieh Ming-hung (謝銘鴻) said that the elderly comprised the majority of the traffic-related deaths.
Of the 2,780 deaths last year, 40 percent were elderly individuals, while 50 percent of those were riding scooters in areas outside of the six special municipalities, he said.
With an aging society, Hsieh said that such incidents would become more common.
There is a spike in scooter-related deaths in August each year – the month before the new academic year and when many teenagers receive their first scooters, Hsieh said, adding that the ministry has taken note of the trend and would be focusing its efforts on lowering the number of such incidents.
The ministry has isolated accident hotspots in 22 counties and cities based on data from 2014 to last year, Hsieh said, adding that the ministry would collaborate with local governments and target those areas from 2021 to 2023.
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