Monday, August 11, 2008

Why it is safer to take the bus

The other day the China Post reported on one of those clinically insane traffic rulings that Taiwan seems to produce in great numbers. In this case, a drunk driver on a scooter rammed a legally and safely parked truck and died. This being Taiwan, the family naturally sought compensation from the offending truck driver. You've probably already guessed what the result was:

A traffic accident evaluation panel composed of three scholars, one lawyer, a traffic police official and a city government official conducted a probe to find out who should be held accountable.

The report said the primary cause for the accident was that Sun himself was riding the motorcycle with alcohol levels exceeding the legal limit and thus failed to pay attention to the situation ahead.

But the panel also ruled that Huang Chien-shin, the pickup truck owner, should also be held responsible.

The experts blamed Huang for "parking the vehicle at a spot without adequate lighting" as well as for "his failure to turn on vehicle lighting or use a reflecting device as a warning sign."

Based on the verdict, which identified Huang as the secondary cause for the accident, Kaohsiung police turned Huang to the prosecutor's office for further probing, for involuntary manslaughter.

If convicted in a subsequent court trial, Huang will be required to serve a sentence of three to six months and provide monetary compensation for Sun's family in a separate civil lawsuit.
Incredible, isn't it? Nobody goes out to turn their lights on at night! And the driver of the truck is not responsible for the street lighting! It's way past time something was done about the practice of (1) not enforcing traffic laws (2) handing down insane accident verdicts (3) sending people to jail because they "caused" a death in a traffic accident for which they were not responsible (I can name many examples) (4) putting uneducated and unlicensed drivers on the road (5) the general attitude toward safety in Taiwan. As the changes in Taipei since Chen Shui-bian was mayor show, it wouldn't be impossible to change things, if only the government would take the lead.


Anonymous said...

Yeah. Its incredible alright. What amazes me in Taipei even is how people shoot red lights with police watching them and doing nothing. You know the story! They see the light turn orange so instead of slowing down they accelerate!

They should put cameras on every traffic light and fine all offenders a significant amount of money (NTD20,000 should do it). It should reduce the problem quickly.

As for my own experience, when I was hit by a car (from behind) on my bicycle and lying in the road stunned and confused, not one of the four attendants at the traffic light bothered to help me. I had to drag myself, broken bike and torn up leg off the road, through the traffic.

Robert said...

Aside from the air here, idiot drivers and indifferent police take a very high spot among the few things that annoy me to no end in Taiwan (it would probably be THE most detestable aspect if I ever drove here, which I don't).

Just the other day, I was walking out of the hospital when a guy on a moped ran into a girl who was walking across the street while, it appeared, writing a text message on her phone. The guy on the scooter swerved, hit her arm, and flew off. Remarkably, she was unfazed, stopping dead in the middle of the street to finish writing her text message, and then leaning down to apologize to the guy on the ground.

I've seen more accidents in Taiwan over the last two years than I can remember seeing in my whole life back home.

I've personally nearly been hit on numerous occasions when getting off the bus. So many people don't seem to make the connection that when the bus stops, there's going to be people either getting on or off on the right side of the bus, so it's probably not a good idea to scoot by the bus on that side.

Then, there's the parents carting their toddlers around without helmets because, after all, these little kids will just quickly "grow out of" a helmet that the parents buy.

On top of all that, there's the cops who don't seem to do a damn thing about any of it.

While I've seen buses, cars, and scooters alike do some pretty stupid stuff on a regular basis, I've grown to loath scooters as the scourge of the roads in Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

I am starting a group called Foreigners Against Redoubtable Traffic. Let's make a stink about this!