Hong Kong Automobile Association (HKAA)
Road Safety Issue to be discussed in the Rio+20 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development
An analysis of Hong Kong’s traffic accident statistics for 2010 reveals 14,943 traffic accidents involved injuries and 19,124 resulted in casualties. On average, 41 traffic accidents with injuries occurred every day during the year and that about two persons were killed every week. Compared to the previous year, the number of accidents and the number of casualties increased by 4.38% and 5.44% respectively.
Clearly, pedestrians consistently suffer the highest number of fatalities while private cars are the largest group involved in accidents. Of the 22,602 vehicles involved in traffic accidents in 2010, private cars accounted for 6,255, compared with 4,053 taxis, 2,726 light goods vehicles, 2,442 public buses, 2,428 motorcycles, 2,027 bicycles and 2,671 other vehicle types.
With the joint effort of various stakeholders, road traffic fatalities are declining. In 2010, with a population of about 7 million, Hong Kong’s traffic fatalities dropped to 117, the lowest on record since 1955. Yet we should not be complacent and must continue to collaborate with the community to promote road safety.
It is encouraging that the number of traffic accidents involving drink driving has continued to drop. In 2010, a total of 214 drivers were arrested in traffic accidents involving drink driving. This represents a significant drop of 69% when compared with 701 drivers in 2008, before random breath testing was introduced. These promising figures evidence the effectiveness of strict traffic enforcement as well as high profile publicity and education campaigns in promoting road safety in Hong Kong. The launch of HKAA’s Chauffeur-Drive-Home Service since February 2009 has also been a helpful concrete campaign in this area.
Over the years, the Hong Kong Automobile Association (HKAA), has been providing valuable commentary to help both the Road Safety Council and the Government in developing new legislation, improving road quality, devising new road safety measures and handling various other aspects related to the general protection of road users. The Association is represented in the Council, the Road Safety Research Committee, the Road Safety Campaign Committee and the Speed Limit Review Working Group with contribution of road safety expertise from time to time to the authority.
The Association continues today its heritage of almost a century of promoting road safety and more efficient traffic management in Hong Kong. It also promotes safe and legal motor sports as a member of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA, or the ‘International Automobile Federation’).
In conclusion, improving road safety can help to achieve environmental objectives, including action on climate change, particularly through providing a safer road system for users of non-motorised transport, such as pedestrians and cyclists, the most vulnerable road users. Providing safe facilities for non-motorised transport, and encouraging affordable and safe public transport, can reduce demand for modal shift to the car. According to the UN Environment Programme, such policies can make ‘a large, lasting impact…on fuel use, congestion, air quality and CO2 emissions… It is also one of the most cost-effective actions for saving hundreds of thousands of lives’; The priorities agreed at Rio+20 will set the global agenda. It is vital that action to improve road safety and promote sustainable transport is included in the agenda and outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference. The lives and health of millions of people is at stake.
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