Electronic Traffic Enforcement (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2023 passes third reading

File photo.

19th June 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong has taken a step towards modernising its traffic enforcement measures with the introduction of an electronic system for issuing traffic fines. The government has further amended the relevant legislation to allow for the electronic delivery of fines to vehicle owners. The proposed amendments received final approval during the legislative session on 26th June. However, some legislators have raised concerns about the government’s duplication of collecting vehicle driver data, while others have highlighted the issue of insufficient parking spaces as a contributing factor to parking violations, calling for improvements in parking facilities.

The Electronic Traffic Enforcement (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2023 aims to revise the Fixed Penalty (Traffic Contraventions) Ordinance, the Fixed Penalty (Criminal Proceedings) Ordinance, the Road Traffic Ordinance, and their subsidiary legislations. These amendments aim to facilitate the enforcement of certain traffic contraventions and offences through electronic means, as well as the provision and request of information related to traffic offences or accidents through electronic channels. The amendments also empower the Commissioner of Police to specify the format of certain notices issued under these ordinances and prescribe the information to be included in such notices. Adaptations to certain provisions have been made to ensure compliance with the Basic Law and Hong Kong’s status as a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. The government estimates that these measures will save approximately HK$247 million.

Legislative Council member Ben Chan expressed his support for electronic fines, emphasising the convenience they offer to citizens. He highlighted the timely notification aspect, allowing motorists to receive notices promptly and remove their vehicles from restricted areas. However, he questioned the need for the government to collect driver data twice, considering that a substantial amount of driver information had already been gathered previously. He hopes that the government can demonstrate the interoperability of data collected across different departments, reducing the need for citizens to repeatedly submit the same information and streamlining administrative procedures.

Legislative Councillor Kitson Yang raised concerns on behalf of some drivers who may face difficulties receiving notifications due to using older phones, unfamiliarity with text messages and emails, or concerns about network signal reliability. He called for increased government promotion and education to address such issues and suggested that improvements be made to the system design. Yang also drew attention to the problem of inadequate parking spaces, with 800,000 registered vehicles in Hong Kong but only 700,000 parking spaces available, highlighting the urgent need for parking infrastructure enhancements.

Legislative Councillor Chan Siu-hung urged the government to ensure rigorous testing of the electronic traffic enforcement system to minimize system failures. He also emphasised the prevalence of fraudulent practices such as phishing emails and text message scams, calling for effective public education initiatives to enhance citizens’ awareness and ability to identify such scams.