A group of legislators from the opposition KMT party is calling for the establishment of a basic traffic safety law in order to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents, after statistics showed that Taiwan’s traffic accident death toll exceeds that of Japan – a neighboring country with a population more than five times that of Taiwan.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) representative Yeh Yu-Lan (葉毓蘭) told Taiwan’s Central News Agency that the number of traffic fatalities in Taiwan in 2020 “reached 3,000” with 482,333 injured and an estimated economic and social cost of NT$500 billion.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communication’s road safety statistics showed that 2,972 people died in traffic accidents nationwide in 2020, up 3.7% from the previous year. The total number of traffic fatalities for 2021 has not yet been released.
Yeh pointed out that the number of traffic deaths in Taiwan in 2020 exceeded the number of road deaths in Japan, while Japan had a population 5 times greater than that of Taiwan’s.
Japan’s population in 2020 stood at 125.8 million, while the population of Taiwan the same year was 23.6 million. In 2020, 2,972 people died in traffic accidents in Taiwan, while Japan’s traffic accident death toll fell to a record low of 2,839.
Yeh said that traffic safety in Taiwan has deteriorated in recent years, and suggested that the problem is systemic. The MOTC is unable to coordinate across departments, lacks an accountability mechanism, and operates in a car-centered environment. There is a disconnection between traffic management, planning and law enforcement, a lack of civil participation, and a decoupling from international trends.
Yeh pointed out that in the international community, to improve traffic safety, the most frequently discussed traffic policies, known as 3E are traffic Education, traffic Engineering and traffic Enforcement. However, Taiwan has long relied on law enforcement to solve all problems. Yeh believes that we should start from traffic safety education and traffic improvement projects, develop good road habits, and integrate traffic safety into our daily life.
Yeh said that Japan also faced the serious problem traffic accidents in the past. In 1970, the number of traffic casualties exceeded 16,000. Therefore, the Japanese government proposed a comprehensive basic law for traffic safety measures, so that the number of traffic accident deaths that had been increasing year by year started to decline. The key to improving traffic safety is raising public consciousness, and promoting systemic and comprehensive reforms.
Yeh proposed drafting a basic safety law which clarifies the state’s responsibility for promoting traffic safety, defines a national policy for traffic safety, and introduces a parliamentary oversight system.
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