By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter
(Kinmen County Police Bureau Director-General Tsai Tsang-po yesterday hands a driver a leaflet explaining the new amendment, which makes it mandatory for backseat passengers to use seatbelts. Photo: Wu Cheng-ting, Taipei Times)
Starting today, car passengers who fail to buckle up when sitting in the backseat could face fines of up to NT$6,000, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said yesterday.
The Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Act Governing Punishments for Violations of Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例), mandating that backseat passengers fasten their seatbelts, in April last year. However, it did not require police to start enforcing the amendment until Feb.1 this year.
The amendment also required parents to install infant car seats or booster seats if they are driving with children who are too short or too small for the standard seatbelts. This part of the amendment will not be enforced until Aug. 1 this year.
Starting today, the police departments will launch a three-day intensive inspection of backseat passengers on roads, freeways and expressways.
Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯), director general of ministry’s Department of Highways and Railways, said that private car owners would be fined NT$1,500 if any of their backseat passengers have not fastened their seatbelts.
“When driving on highways and expressways, drivers will be fined NT$3,000 if one of their backseat passenger is not using a seatbelt and NT$4,500 if two passengers are not buckled up,” Chen said. “The penalties could jump to NT$4,500 and NT$6,000 respectively if drivers fail to pay the fine for more than two months.”
Taxi drivers are exempt from paying fines if they have adequately informed their customers about the new regulation, including displaying written notices or giving verbal instructions. Backseat passengers who refuse to buckle up even after they have been told about the new regulation by the taxi driver will have to pay the fine themselves, with penalties starting at NT$3,000.
According to Transportation and Communications Minister Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國), a survey by the ministry’s National Road Traffic Safety Commission found that about 90 percent of those polled were aware of the new regulation.
He added that past studies have shown that cars passengers who do not fasten their seatbelts were 3.6 times more likely to be killed in traffic accidents than those who do, whereas backseat passengers not wearing a seatbelt are 2.7 times more likely to die in accidents compared with those who buckle up.