Ten minutes after joining revelers in ringing in the new year, a scooter rider in Taipei was fined NT$1,000, becoming the first person in the country to get a fine for using a hand-held device while driving a car or scooter.
Taking effect starting yesterday, motorists caught using hand-held devices while driving will face a fine of NT$3,000 and NT$1,000 for car drivers and motorcyclists respectively.
The new regulation applies not only to the use of cellphones, but also computers and other mobile devices used for sending text messages, e-mails, voice mails, electronic notes and for social networking.
At 10 minutes past midnight, after finishing watching the Taipei 101 fireworks display, the scooter driver, surnamed Chang (張), was fined by the Taipei Traffic Police Corps for using the smartphone application Line, a messaging service app, while waiting at a red traffic light on the corner of Keelung Road Sec 1.
According to the Taipei Traffic Police Corps, another scooter rider was fined at 00:28am yesterday at a crossroad between Keelung Road Sec 2 and Guangfu South Road for violating the new rule.
In other news, the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) yesterday said that it is considering implementing a measure that would save millions of motorists the trouble of having to renew their drivers’ licenses, adding that the measure could take effect in July.
The highway authority had already announced last year that drivers would not need to renew their motor vehicle registration cards anymore, a regulation that also took effect yesterday.
The directorate said that freeing motorists from having to of renew their licenses is much more complicated than lifting the requirement to renew vehicle registration cards because the former requires connecting the system of the National Police Agency to household registration offices.
The directorate would also need to discuss other issues with relevant agencies.
However, the directorate said that it was confident that the entire procedure would be completed by the end of this year, adding that the earliest date of implementation would be in July.
Even though motorists would not need not renew their vehicle registration cards, they still need a certificate listing the vehicle registration information when they buy a new car, apply for a change in car ownership or make any change to their vehicle registration information.
The old system of renewing vehicle registration cards had been in place for 60 years.
Drivers were originally asked to renew their cards each year and the directorate later changed the policy by allowing drivers to renew every three years and every two years for motorcyclists.
On average, the directorate receives 5.8 million applications per year to renew motor vehicle registration cards.