Hong Kong is mulling new rules for the number of mobiles phones drivers can have on their dashboards. It comes after a fatal accident last month during which a taxi driver ploughed into a group of pedestrians in Tai Po, killing two and injuring eight.

“The [Transport and Housing Bureau] is considering the direction of regulating the number and location of mobile phones to be placed by motorists, and the mode in which the mobile phone is used as well as the purpose of using it,” Chan said during a Legislative Council meeting last week.

taxi driver phones
Photo: Internet.

His comments were made in response to questions from lawmaker Frankie Yick about whether the government was considering measures to “eradicate” drivers’ use of mobile phones or tablet computers while driving.

Chan said the government will consider similar regulations overseas and consult local stakeholders before forwarding a concrete proposal.

“The government has always attached great importance to road safety, and has been ensuring the safety of road users through regulation by law and promoting attentive driving through education and publicity,” the secretary said.

Official figures show the police have handled 14,536 cases of drivers who were using their mobile phones or other telecommunication devices while driving between January and July this year. Of the total, only 174 of the cases involved taxi drivers and 29 cases involved minibus drivers.

‘Promotion and education’

Chan added that the government has been working with the Road Safety Council and the police to educate the public on the importance of “driving attentively.” He added that the current required training course for taxi drivers “enhanced awareness” for road safety.

traffic jam
Traffic jam at the Western Harbour Tunnel. File

“The government hopes that the multi-faceted effort on legislation, publicity and education, licence application and law enforcement, etc. can facilitate motorists, especially drivers of taxi and commercial vehicles, in continually improving driving habit and maintaining safety awareness at all times,” the secretary said.

Taxi and minibus drivers with multiple devices on their dashboards have become something of local quirk. Pictures which have circulated on social media showed dashboards covered in several, sometimes up to over a dozen, devices.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.