Ministry of Transportation and Communications officials are scheduled to meet this month to discuss the possibility of making wearing seat belts mandatory on large buses.
The issue resurfaced in public discussions last month after a tour bus accident on the Chiang Wei-shui Freeway (National Freeway No. 5) in February killed 33 people and injured 11.
Prosecutors said in the first phase of the investigation that the accident was caused by excessive speed. The bus was traveling at 84kph in a 50kph zone.
Regulations stipulate that bus drivers and passengers in certain seats are required to wear seat belts, including passengers sitting next to the driver, in the row of seats next to the bus’ back door and the middle seat in the back row.
Ministry data shows that passengers who do not wear a seat belt are 3.6 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than those who do. Passengers sitting in the back seat of a bus and who are not wearing a seat belt are 2.7 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident.
The Institute of Transportation submitted the results of a study into similar regulations in other countries to the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) for further deliberations.
Since 2006, the EU has required large buses to make seat belts available to drivers and passengers, and many EU nations have mandated that drivers and passengers wear a seat belt when traveling on freeways or long-distance intercity bus services. The rules do not apply to inner-city buses.
The research showed that some countries require child safety seats to be installed in buses.
DGH officials said it is likely to propose that bus passengers fasten their seat belts when traveling on freeways or expressways.
Their decision is to be finalized at a meeting this month when officials meet with experts and other parties that might be affected by the legislation, they said, adding that amendments would have to be made to enforce the legislation.
Notices advising passengers of the requirement would need to be displayed, and if passengers refuse to comply with the regulation after being reminded by the bus driver, it would be the passenger, not the bus driver, who should pay a fine, the DGH said, adding that the rules would be the same as those applied to taxi drivers and their customers.
Car drivers and back seat passengers face a fine of NT$1,500 each for not wearing seat belts when traveling on regular roads, and between NT$3,000 and NT$6,000 when traveling on a freeway or an expressway.
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