Positive results of investigation belies road fatality statistics

  • By Lin Liang-sheng and Kayleigh Madjar / Staff Journalist, with Staff Editor

Even though road deaths have increased every year for the past four years, people believe the roads have become safer, a Project Vision investigation found on Wednesday.

The organization told a press conference at the Legislative Assembly in Taipei that Taiwan needed a structured approach to achieve “road justice”.

More than 6,000 survey respondents said the country’s roads were safer and better than 10 years ago, with drivers more willing to give in, said Lo Kuo-chun (羅國俊) executive director of the Project Vision.

However, road deaths have actually increased every year since 2017, reaching nearly 3,000 in 2020, Lo said.

Traffic incidents are the sixth leading cause of death in Taiwan, requiring more attention than is given, he said.

Travel safety is a basic human right, said Jason Chang (張學 孔), director of the Advanced Public Transportation Research Center at National Taiwan University.

A country that allows nearly 3,000 deaths, 460,000 minor injuries and 50,000 serious injuries from traffic incidents each year – resulting in economic losses of more than $ 15 billion a year – is irresponsible, Chang said.

If it decides to take the problem seriously, the government should include in its solution the design of roads and vehicles, intelligent management and enforcement of traffic, modernization of public transport and modification of driver behavior, a he declared.

Organizational changes are also needed, including road safety reporting under the responsibility of the Executive Yuan, not the Ministry of Transport and Communications, he said.

After 20 years of hard work, the country has a transport security bureau to conduct investigations, but a general security bureau is needed, as well as a national level traffic police, Chang said. .

Agencies under separate ministries focused on road safety should also be combined, he said.

The Cabinet has spearheaded a multi-pronged approach to improve public transport and road safety through engineering, education, enforcement and legislation, said Lee Chao -hsien (李昭賢), specialist in the Department of Railways and Highways.

Education is the best way to tackle the problem at its root, reaching schoolchildren and the elderly across their communities, Lee said.

Using technology to identify areas with high accident rates and response times with more precise application is also key to reducing incidents, he said.

From an infrastructure perspective, central and local governments would coordinate to improve 1,950 intersections by the end of the year, Lee said.

Intersections are the main site of fatal crashes, he said, adding that the goal is to protect pedestrians by reverse engineering intersections so that they no longer prioritize vehicles.

Lee endorsed calls to tackle drinking and driving, saying the conditions for vehicle confiscation should be reviewed, the scope of penalties for repeated infractions extended and penalties for passengers increased.

A bill would also be introduced to penalize the misuse of phones by pedestrians, he said.

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