Category: Road Safety
Tai Po crash inquiry to examine all Hong Kong bus services
An independent inquiry into the Tai Po bus crash will examine all Hong Kong bus operations, including Lantau services.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the inquiry after visiting accident victims last night.
She said the commission will be headed by a judge and would come up with recommendations to ensure the city’s public transport system is “reliable and safe.”
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the inquiry would examine “the wider perspective, the whole question of safety, particularly in terms of passengers’ safety in relation to franchised buses and minbuses, etc., in order to prevent a similar accident from happening in the future.”
Nineteen people died and 65 were injured when a KMB bus overturned on a downhill stretch of Tai Po Road at 6pm last night. The driver has been arrested over dangerous driving offences.
It was Hong Kong’s worst accident since 2003.
It follows another in Sham Shui Po in October involving an E21A route Citybus on its way to Ho Man Tin from Tung Chung, in which three died and 29 were injured .
Hong Kong’s two union groupings have blamed the accident on working conditions at KMB.
RTHK reported this afternoon that the Motor Transport Workers General Union, an affiliate of the pro-Beijing FTU,
criticized the company, saying KMB drivers were not allowed enough rest. The union also said KMB’s poor pay is the reason it faces a shortage of drivers.
The independent HKCTU is taking a similar position, SCMP.com reported.
Wong Yu-loi of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions cited excessive hours, a shortage of qualified drivers and poor pay as long-standing problems.
Wong said he was angry and disappointed that officials had failed to review guidelines and policy following another fatal crash in Sham Shui Po last September, which killed three.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung had pledged to review the guidelines at the time, calling for tighter conditions tied to overtime.
The unions have some backing from executive councillor Fanny Law, who has said the inquiry should review manpower and rostering issues at franchised bus companies.
KMB is the biggest of the city’s five franchised bus operators, with a fleet of 3,920 and carrying 2.71 million passengers a day in 2016.
New Lantao Bus is the smallest, with 121 vehicles and carrying an average 71,900 passengers per day.
On Lantau, North Lantau Highway is the worst accident blackspot, including one in November that injured 18.
South Lantau residents and police have expressed concern about buses speeding on the narrow roads. A bus and a car were involved in a collision near Pui O this morning.
The last fatality was two years ago, when a bus struck a pedestrian in Tung Chung.
(Photo: SCMP.com screenshot)
Close shave! Bus, taxi in dramatic near-miss (video)
A taxi dashcam has recorded a heartstopping near-miss with a New Lantao Bus.
The number 11 bus was travelling from Tung Chung toward Tai O at 2:47pm Friday when it overtook a cement truck on a bend, oblivious to the taxi coming from the other direction.
The two vehicles came to a near-halt with metres to spare.
The location of the incident is not clear, but it appears to be on South Lantau Road west of Shui Hau .
The video, posted on Plaxtonl’s Bus Facebook page, attracted a number of comments mocking the safety of NLB services.
A customer service staff member told the Oriental Daily that the NLB would take disciplinary action against the driver.
Bus company and driver sued over fatal Tung Chung accident
The estate of a man fatally struck by a bus in Tung Chung last year is sueing the bus company and the driver.
A 38-year-old chef, Ng Konghung, was hit by a no. 34 mini-bus while crossing the road outside the Ngong Ping 360 cable station on January 24 last year. The driver was given a suspended four-month sentence and fined $5000.
Ng’s estate filed in the High Court earlier this week, seeking damages from Kwoon Chung Motors – the owner of the New Lantao 1973 Bus Company – and the driver, Oriental Daily reported.
Police seek blue taxi over Shui Hau hit-and-run
Police suspect a Lantau taxi was involved in a hit-and-run accident at Shui Hau early today that killed a cow.
They are interviewing a cab driver in relation to the incident. They believe the taxi has been taken to a Cheung Sha Wan garage for repair.
They also seek three passengers believed to have taken a cab from Tai O to Tung Chung between 2:00 to 4:00 am today.
A female cow died on the road between Shui Hau and Tong Fuk in the early hours this morning.
Police arriving at the scene at 4:15am found the animal (no 228) had died and the driver had fled. They found fragments of a vehicle indicator light on the road and are calling for public assistance.
It is the second time in less than two weeks that a vehicle has struck a cow at that location, approximately a kilometre west of Tong Fuk.
The Lantau Buffalo Association and members are offering HK$5000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the driver responsible for the death.
They are calling for passengers in the cab, or other witnesses, to come forward.
Anyone with information about the incident can call New Territories South Traffic Investigations Team on 36611300, Lantau traffic police on 36612780 or LBA Hotline on 81036312.
How to safely share the road with Lantau cattle and buffalo
Two nights ago a female cow was struck by a car on South Lantau Road.
Fortunately she suffered no more than abrasions and should quickly make a full recovery. Others have not been so lucky.
According to the Lantau Buffalo Association (LBA) three bovines have died on local roads since the beginning of last year – two adults and one calf. Last month a bull died after being struck by an unknown vehicle at Shap Sze Tung near Sai Kung.
The three worst blackspots are the South Lantau section of Tung Chung Road, the bend at Cheung Sha by the police station and South Lantau Road near the Shui Hau football pitch.
If you are a driver on Lantau roads, you must be cattle-aware. This means observing the speed limit, approaching bends and blind spots cautiously and having some familiarity with their behaviour.
Bovines are not fast and skittish animals – they will not jump out in front of traffic. But you must be aware that you may encounter one on the road suddenly when you round a bend.
You should also be alert to local cattle moving to or from their overnight shelter late in the afternoon or early mornings.
If you are an experienced local driver, you most likely have already adopted these practices. Police and LBA data suggest that a high proportion of accidents involve drivers inexperienced in Lantau conditions – the narrow roads, the slower speeds and the cattle movements are not found in the rest of Hong Kong.
If you are involved in an accident with a cattle or buffalo, you must remain at the scene and render assistance, just as you would if you had hit a human pedestrian. Leaving the scene could incur up to 12 months’ jail time and a $10,000 fine.
As with any other accident you should call the police.
If the animal is injured, you should also call one of the local cattle groups (see below). They or the police can call the AFCD Cattle Team, which can provide professional assistance. It can take more than an hour for them to arrive, however. Local groups can assist in the meantime in making an early assessment of the injured animal and providing some basic aid.
Remember that often after an accident an injured animal may wander away. You can assist by watching and if necessary following the animal – often they may stray into the bushes at the side of the road and become hard to find. Do not assume that the animal is unhurt because it is walking.
If you are a passenger or a passer-by this also applies – you can help by observing the injured animal until the vet arrives.
Our bovine populations are one of Lantau’s treasures – be sure you make room for them on the road.
LBA Rescue Hotline: 8103 6312
PALS: 9197 4371
SPCA: 2984 0060
Tai O Community Cattle Group: 5181 4406
The trouble with EVA
Mui Wo’s EVA is a hot mess, but change may be coming.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to drive on the emergency vehicle access road through the Mui Wo hinterland.
The road, created decades ago by the CEDD when it built the drainage and sewerage system, has never been gazetted and remains a private road. The only roads where it is illegal to drive without a permit are short sections near the junction of Ngan Shek and Ngan Shu streets (above) in Mui Wo.
The Transport Department is reviewing the road’s legal status and whether it needs to be upgraded. The options are to retain as it is, to upgrade it and formally declare it a prohibited zone, or even to open it up as a public road. But with at least half a dozen government agencies and local rural committee involved, any change will take time.
EVA is under the purview of the District Office, a unit of the Home Affairs Department. But administration of the road also involves the Transport, Lands and Highways departments, police and fire services, and even Architectural Services and Building Services departments.
South Lantau police commander Chief Inspector David Bennett says that the push to develop Lantau South and the extra population that will bring means government agencies are required to look at whether declaring an EVA road “is a realistic prospect.”
He said that at his first meeting with Mui Wo leaders two years he asked if they could identify the EVA road – none could. Broadly speaking he says the ‘EVA road’ is the Rural Committee Rd. As a private road, it is not illegal to drive on it without a permit. Vehicles cannot be prosecuted for speeding, although police can hand out fines for reckless driving.
To reach the EVA road drivers must pass through the prohibited zones on Ngan Shu or Ngan Shek streets. It’s technically an offence to drive on those without a permit and police may be able to prosecute if they have a witness or evidence of the offence taking place.
The Mui Wo EVA is quite different from others in Hong Kong in being close to population. In Yuen Long and Shek O the EVAs have clear rules and are not in built-up areas.
Bennett says that in the short-term physical upgrades may be likely, such as installation of mirrors, warning signs, yellow lines and passing places.
In the long term, the question is “what does the District Office expect of this road in terms of meeting community expectations?”
S. Lantau permit violations soar after rules eased
The number of drivers caught on South Lantau without a permit has soared since the government eased restrictions on non-local vehicles early this year.
In the first six months of 2016, police summonsed 138 drivers in South Lantau for driving without a closed road permit, more than one and a half times the number penalised in all of 2015. The drivers were caught at traffic stops and snap checks, Lantau police say.
The level of speeding offences is also up sharply. Police issued 125 tickets in the first half, compared with 204 in 2015. Continue reading
We will enforce the law, says Lantau’s top cop
Here’s a message from Lantau’s police chief: we will enforce the law.
The new district commander, Senior Superintendent Alice Lee (above), says crime and community safety are her top priorities and that bovines and incense trees need to be protected.
With just 300 police covering an area roughly twice the size of Hong Kong Island, she adopts what she calls collaborative and intelligence-based policing – in other words, finding ways to work with the community.
But she acknowledges that traffic issues are critical because of the island’s narrow roads and growing vehicle numbers, and makes it clear that her officers will uphold the law.
In response to the rising road risks, the number of traffic bookings has grown sharply: police issued 201 tickets in the first half of this year and 473 last year, compared to just 278 in 2014.
Inevitably, the number of complaints has also soared. Lee and her team are visiting all of the local rural committees to discuss the issue and explain their traffic policies.
“I need to do some publicity and education on our village representatives so they can spread the message. Because they are puzzled – why ticket us? They are not happy.”
Parking tickets are an especially sensitive issue because of the limited spaces available, particularly around Mui Wo.
“I can’t tell [them] that I won’t ticket them. I’m here to enforce the law,” Lee said.
She does make it clear police will issue tickets to illegally parked cars that cause danger and obstruction to other road users. They will also book vehicles illegally parked next to parking meters.
Lee acknowledged the vexed issue of vehicles using the emergency access road in Mui Wo. She could not discuss it in detail but said: “We understand the community concerns, and actions are in the pipeline now.”
Her approach to the equally contentious issue of cattle and buffalo is more straightforward.
“Care to the cows and buffalos remain our top priority, though sometimes they do slow down our traffic. But I would say their lives are precious and they are a species that we humans should be protecting. We need to educate drivers to be careful on the narrow roads of Lantau Island.”
She jokes that the old Cheung Sha police station regularly hosts visitors from the local herd. “They often flock to the Cheung Sha operations base, eat the grass there and take a rest. We will let them stay there.”
The South Lantau idyll couldn’t be more different from Lee’s previous posting. Densely-packed Kwun Tong, where she served until five months ago, has 700,000 people and nearly three times the number of officers.
It experiences every kind of crime, Lee recalls. The biggest difference with Lantau is the high level of commercial crime – that barely exists on rural Lantau. Police here deal with offences like home burglaries and illegal immigrant, and personal crimes such as criminal damage and domestic disputes.
They also deal with a distinctively Lantau problem – incense tree theft. Hong Kong’s name 香港 (fragrant harbour) derives from the aromatic agarwood produced by these trees. It’s in hot demand from wealthy mainland Chinese, and Lantau and the New Territories are prime targets.
Lee says police have received no reports of logging this year, although a number of trees have been prepped for chopping. She says police need help from the community in identifying locations of trees and reporting logging.
Lantau police responsibilities will widen further with the opening of the Hong Kong-Macau bridge, theoretically at the end of 2017. Lee’s team will be responsible for policing the landing point and the Hong Kong end of the bridge, meaning an extra 150 police will be attached to the local force.
It may also mean the reopening of the old Cheung Sha police base to accommodate the extra officers, depending on the outcome of a review of office needs.
Lee brings the language and ideas of 21st century management to her role. Her conversation is punctuated with references to community engagement, knowledge management, service quality and feedback.
And she actually invites residents to complain.
“Tell us if you are dissatisfied with our performance,” Lee urges. “If you want to make a formal complaint, we will refer you to the Police Complaints Office. But if you just want to reflect your opinion to, we are happy to receive it. It’s important that we get the feedback from you. Its very important that our officers should learn.”
Prosecutions for closed road breaches up sharply
Prosecutions of drivers entering South Lantau without a permit have risen by nearly three-fifths in the last two years, according to Transport Dept figures.
Police prosecuted 1007 drivers last year, up from 823 in 2014 and 637 in 2013, the department said in answer to a question from Legco member Kwok Ka Ki.
South Lantau police chief David Bennett, a former traffic policeman who took on the post early last year, has said he would make road safety a priority.
Chef hit by Tung Chung bus dies in hospital
A 38-year-old man died in North Lantau Hospital after being struck by a bus on Sunday morning.
The man, surnamed Ng, wascrossing Yat Tung Rd near the Tung Chung bus terminal when he was struck by the no. 34 bus and dragged underneath the vehicle, sustaining serious injuries.
Ng, who worked as a chef at Discovery Bay, was listening to music through earphones as he crossed the road, Apple Daily reported.
Police arrested the 63-year-old bus driver on suspicion of dangerous driving.
They have appealed for witnesses to contact investigating officers on 3661 1300.