TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese authorities will fine drivers and scooter riders for not yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians at crosswalks starting Tuesday (Sept. 1).
Those violating the rule will be fined a maximum of NT$3,600 (US$122).
In early August, a young couple was hit by a small box truck when walking in a clearly marked crosswalk a few steps from a metro station in New Taipei City when they had the right-of-way. The man survived the accident with minor scratches, but his girlfriend lost her life to a severe head injury.
Surveillance videos showed the driver did not slow down and pay attention to the crosswalk when making his left turn, which resulted in the fatal collision.
The driver claimed to have not seen the couple; however, investigative reports indicated the man rushed to make his turn before the signal changed. Believing they had been given the signal to walk, the unsuspecting pedestrians did so, and then the tragedy happened.
Anger has boiled over the accident, as both locals and foreigners in Taiwan have long expressed dismay at the aggressive and uncivil behavior so often displayed by drivers when there is any confusion about right-of-way. A renowned law professor has cited government data to emphasize that the fatalities caused by these failures to yield the right-of-way exceed those from drunk driving every year in Taiwan.
Police data shows that approximately 60 percent of car accidents in Taiwan take place at intersections. Last year, 458 pedestrians were killed, which was an increase of 12.8 percent from the previous year.
Hsieh Min-hung (謝銘鴻), executive secretary of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' (MOTC) Road Traffic Safety Commission, told media that pedestrians have an absolute right-of-way at intersections when there is ambiguity. Vehicles have to slow down, stop, and watch pedestrians when both have been given the simultaneous signal to proceed.
Here is a video showing the proper method for drivers to make a left turn at an intersection: