5/01/2008

No Seat Belt, No Excuse



In Taiwan, it's often considered rude to wear a seat belt, like we're insulting the driver's skill if we dare to put one on. When I first got here, I'd instinctively reach for my seat belt and other passengers would wag a finger at me, warning me not to commit a faux pas. Thankfully, Taiwan adopted a front-seat seat belt regulation in 2001 (with a fine of maybe NT$1500 or NT$2000 for those who don't buckle up), which was a good idea, considering that seat belts reduce the number of serious injuries sustained by 50 percent and fatalities by 30 to 40 percent. In an accident, they can keep you from plunging through a window or getting knocked out cold (you might need your wits about you to get out of a burning or submerged car). They can prevent all kinds of other terrible scenarios.

I pulled up these automobile stats on Taiwan. In 2005, there were 5,634,362 registered cars with 86,940 accidents and a fatality rate of .96. There were 13,195,265 registered motorcycles (meaning, I guess, mostly scooters) with 130,366 accidents and a 1.19 fatality rate. There were 26,967 registered buses with 1,191 crashes and a fatality rate of 4.82 (aren't these guys supposed to be the professionals and receive extra training?)! There were 953,470 trucks and trailers, with 25,499 accidents and a 1.71 fatality rate. In total, 203,087 people were injured in that year and 2,894 died. Automobile accidents have increased ten-fold in Taiwan over the past 20 years.

BTW, I noticed this seat belt ad on the Danish blog Silver Drizzle: http://silverdrizzle.blogspot.com/

1 comment:

Boyd R. Jones said...

Mainland Chinese taxi drivers are the same way in terms of berating you if you try to fasten a seat belt while in the front seat.