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The crisis of road safety: Safety reforms urged for scooters

The crisis of road safety: Safety reforms urged for scooters

2022-07-17

Last week, we looked at the state of road safety in Taiwan. Almost 3,000 people are killed on Taiwan’’s roads every year. Today we take an in-depth look at the most vulnerable road users: scooter riders. As scooters continue to proliferate, the number of accidents is rising too. Scooters are always vulnerable in the face of bigger vehicles. And riders are put at risk by ambiguous rules and a lack of proper education. Experts are calling for scooter licenses to be better regulated, and for driving lessons to become the norm, not the exception. Here’’s part two of our special report.


The scooter is Taiwan’s national mode of transport, indispensable for going to work, picking up kids, and grocery shopping. But in Taiwan’s complex traffic, the risk of an accident is high. Scooter riders are vulnerable on the road and most victims of accidents are riders. In recent years, the rise of the food delivery industry has increased road traffic and created a new high-risk population: delivery riders.

After picking up an order, delivery rider Tsu Tsu祖祖 needs to get this drink to the customer within four minutes. There’s not a second to spare. She’s up and away. As delivery platforms grow, riders like Tsu Tsu are everywhere. People complain that riders ignore speed limits in their rush to deliver orders. But riders have their own complaints too.

Tsu Tsu
Food delivery platform rider
It’s because we’re so hurried. The customers sometimes rush us. That’s why we rush to get it delivered.

As riders traverse their route, their progress can be tracked by the platform and by the customer. That puts tremendous pressure on delivery riders. On the app Tsu Tsu uses, a warning noise sounds constantly.

Tsu Tsu
Food delivery platform rider
After a customer makes an order, it keeps making a noise, beep beep beep. If we don’t complete the delivery within the time, it keeps beeping. So we have to listen to it constantly. It’s really anxiety-provoking. It makes us ride faster to get to the customer ASAP. So it means we’re very distracted and that’s why road accidents happen.

As delivery riders pick their way through Taiwan’s maze of roads, they can spend up to eight or 12 hours on the road each day. On chaotic roads, they are at more risk than the average citizen.

Chen Yu-an
National Delivery Union
Some roads are innately badly designed. For example, scooters are banned on the inside lane, but there are cars parked parallel on the outside, or buses or taxis. That means scooters have to fight for survival in the cracks between vehicles. I have a friend who was in four accidents in one month. It was zero fault on his end every time. He was hit by someone else. I don’t think the government should put all this down to delivery riders. They should distinguish the causes, both primary and secondary, as well as who is not at fault.

Wu Mu-fu
MOTC traffic safety committee secretary-general
According to statistics from our monitoring organization, there are about 130,000 delivery riders. Their accident rate is 2.08%. The accident rate for normal scooter riders is 1.88%. It’s about 10% higher. So you can’t say there’s no risk. The platforms must take notice, must prioritize their employees’ safety. It doesn’t matter if they’re a permanent or casual employee – that’s irrelevant. So right now, the Ministry of Labor is starting to draw up occupational safety guidelines for this field.

In 2021, there were more than 14 million scooters on Taiwan’s roads. But while the scooter occupies a giant place in Taiwan’s road culture, its place in Taiwan’s road laws is ambiguous.

Chen Hung-yi
Taiwan Traffic Safety Association
Our definitions for scooters are a bit vague. It’s sometimes a bit like a bicycle, but sometimes like a car, sometimes a fast car, sometimes a slow car. The definitions of the category are unclear. Sometimes scooters are banned from the road, but sometimes not. Sometimes there are two sections, but not always. So that means that scooter riders are more subject to disturbances and to limitations that confuse the situation, and make it hard to navigate.

It’s not just that rules on scooters are vague. The design of roads and the rules on priority also need a thorough review.

Chen Hung-yi
Taiwan Traffic Safety Association
Our road laws are based on the 1968 Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act. It’s more than half a century old. Shouldn’t we review it comprehensively? That includes the categories of vehicles. Shouldn’t we codify and clearly stipulate the rights and restrictions they have on the road?

Transport ministry figures show that nearly 3,000 people die on the road each year. Of those, 60% are scooter riders. Meanwhile, of the 480,000 people injured annually, 77% are scooter riders. Scholars say that new riders aged 18 to 20 are the demographic most at risk.

Chang Hsin-li
NYCU Transportation and Logistics Dept. professor
So I once joked that this is a rite of passage in Taiwan. You’re 18, you start riding a scooter, and you have to get through this two-year risk period. If you’re injured or killed then you’re eliminated, wiped out.

This dark coming-of-age ritual is a Taiwanese specialty. One reason young people are at risk is that many of them don’t get proper driving lessons.

Chang Hsin-li
NYCU Transportation and Logistics Dept. professor
We always think – before the age of 18, nobody taught them the correct methods. Firstly, they don’t understand the laws. They don’t understand safety. They don’t know how to drive the scooter properly. They don’t even understand how it works or what it does, they just get on it. That’s very dangerous. In an emergency, nobody is there to tell you what is dangerous or what to do. Moreover, the laws are incomplete, so to be honest, it is really like somebody getting into a game without knowing what the rules are.

Some people ride scooters all their lives without ever being taught properly. They just practice outside their front door a few times and then zoom off. Basic knowledge and skills can be quite lacking. Such riders can be dangerous to others as well as themselves.

News reporter
The scooter and tractor unit were driving in parallel, when the scooter rider turned left. At the corner where the camera couldn’t film, she was hit from behind by the tractor unit and killed by its right wheel.

News reporter
The woman in the blue and green helmet was riding a scooter on Xinzhuang Zhongzheng Road. As she passed a junction, she cut into the inner lane but didn’t react in time. She collided with a vehicle behind her and was thrown into the air.

The most common causes of accidents are things like not keeping a safe distance from other road users, changing lanes without checking for oncoming vehicles, and being in the blind spot of a large vehicle. Education is the most important step in self-protection.

Driving instructor
OK, all students must pay attention to the parked cars, and look to see if there are oncoming cars from left or right. Only when they have passed can you go.

Today at this driving school, there’s a special lesson for scooter riders. It teaches the traffic code and safe driving practices, using lots of drills. Students learn good habits and skills for protecting themselves on the road.

Driving instructor
The scooter is following too close behind and that causes a collision.

Not keeping enough distance means your vision is obstructed by the car in front. If the car suddenly turns, a crash can occur.

Getting too close to cars on either side is dangerous. If a door opens without warning, you might not have time to swerve.

Driving instructor
These two vehicles are driving in parallel. The coach turns just a tiny bit to the right. The back of the vehicle crashes into the scooter.

Driving beside a truck, a scooter can be hit on a right turn. It’s a particularly dangerous location. The teachers here go through common road hazards like this one, teaching students how to avoid accidents with defensive riding.

Jeff Chen
Motor education association head
On a scooter, it’s easy to make this mistake. You ride in front of a large vehicle, you think they can see you, but actually, if we go and look in a moment – can they? Look in front. That scooter is totally invisible, isn’t it? Sitting here you can’t see it at all. That’s dangerous, right? Only when you sit in the driver’s seat do you realize, I’m invisible to them.

There are lots of blind spots in a large vehicle. This scooter has clearly stopped by the truck, but it’s invisible in the rearview mirror. That’s often how tragedy strikes. Here at the driving school, riders get to know a variety of safety hazards before they get on the road.

Ms. Wu
Driving student
I can already ride a bit, but coming here for lessons improves rider safety. A professional trainer teaches you, it’s more professional. If you teach yourself, you don’t really know anything. My parents – too many people up in the mountains don’t have licenses. So we don’t know if they taught us the most correct information.

In recent years, the transport ministry has subsidized driving lessons, to encourage more scooter riders to get trained before taking their license test. Riders who are trained break traffic rules 30% less than those who have not trained, and they get in 20% fewer accidents.

Jeff Chen
Motor education association head
The average scooter is not cheap. It can easily be NT$70,000 or NT$80,000. Many parents are willing to spend that. But they don’t even think of spending NT$2,000 or NT$3,000 on a defensive driving course for their child. I actually think you should give your child an education before giving your child a scooter.

After riders take a full course of lessons, the test is the next important hurdle. Or it would be, if the test weren’t so easy.

Chiu Hsien-chih
Lawmaker
As our scooter riding test stands currently, you ride to the test center and then do a little obstacle course and you’re done. If we compare that to Japan, they might also have to do an emergency brake, they might have a pedestrian suddenly emerge, they might have all kinds of simulated situations. Can this person, who passed this exam, actually handle a motorized vehicle, whether it’s a scooter or a car? That is a really big question.

On the other side of the exam, people with a scooter or car driver’s license don’t need to retake the test until they are 75. This means that there’s a lack of ongoing oversight on problematic drivers.

Chang Hsin-li
NYCU Transportation and Logistics Dept. professor
Why should we renew licenses? License renewal has one basic function. Every country in the world has license renewal systems. The whole road environment, the laws and the facilities available have all changed a lot from how they were decades ago. We’re not able to use the license renewal process to reeducate drivers. If drivers rack up too many points on their license, too many errors, then we should give them some counseling and education.

Wu Mu-fu
MOTC traffic safety committee secretary-general
We can work toward this on many fronts at once. From passing the test to license renewal – all these things should be designed comprehensively. It’s a very important part of managing motor vehicle drivers. We can’t push forward too aggressively. But right now, we’ve already started with older drivers. Of course, if it gradually produces some results, then we can expand it further. But we should be able to do this, if everyone has a consensus.

If Taiwan’s road safety is a national security issue, then a complete overhaul is needed – in terms of laws, road design, driving culture and the licensing and testing system.

Chen Hung-yi
Taiwan Traffic Safety Association
This unspoken sense of crisis is actually in all our hearts and minds already. To be able to live free of fear is a part of our human rights. Living in a constant state of fear of traffic – that’s not how it should be in an advanced, civilized country.

To change the status quo and create roads fit for use will take everyone joining in. Yes, the government must prioritize reform. But every day that we step out of our homes and get on the road, we can slow down, pay more attention, and put safety first.


無聲的國安危機─交通之殤(下)

2022-07-17

上個單元,我們看到台灣交通事故情況的嚴重,而根據交通部的統計,在交通死傷事件當中,有超過六成都是所謂「肉包鐵」的機車騎士。事實上,台灣一向被稱為機車王國,機車密度,高居亞洲之冠,尤其近兩年受疫情影響,很多人不想搭大眾運輸工具,機車數量更是大幅增加,目前已經達到1400多萬輛。機車機動性高,確實是很方便的交通工具,但也因為騎機車,造成不少嚴重事故。這樣的交通險境,有辦法改變嗎?請繼續看我們的報導。

騎車上下班,接送小孩,買東西,機車是台灣的國民交通工具,然而台灣交通環境複雜,事故風險高,肉包鐵的機車族成了最主要的受害者,近幾年外送行業興起,不僅增加了交通車流,外送員們也變成高風險族群。

取餐完成,外送員祖祖現在要在4分鐘內,將飲料送到客人的手中,一分鐘也不能耽誤,她立刻騎車上路,使命必達,外送平台蓬勃發展,像祖祖這樣的外送大軍越來越多,社會對於外送員在馬路上搶單送餐,騎快車,開始出現批評聲浪,不過外送員也有話要說。

[[祖祖 美食平台外送員]]
“是因為很急,客人可能會催促我們,我們就是會急著去送”

平台業者與消費者,透過手機APP緊盯行程,送餐時間稍有延遲,外送員就會有極大的時間壓力,像祖祖服務的平台,警示音就會叫個不停。

[[祖 祖 美食平台外送員]]
“(客人)訂餐後,取餐它會有聲音,會一直嗶嗶叫,我們在時間內未送達,它也會一直叫,所以我們就要聽聲音,無時無刻那個聲音讓我們會很緊張,會騎很快要趕快送給客人,所以導致我們會很分散注意力,才會發生車禍”

他們每天騎著機車穿梭大街小巷,騎乘的時間可能長達8到12個小時,在交通混亂的情況下,比一般人承擔著更高的交通風險。

[[陳昱安 理事長 國外送產業工會]]
“像是一些道路天生設計不良,比如說可能內側禁行機車,但是外側又有並排停車,或有公車、計程車,等於說我們要在車縫中求生存,像我一個朋友,他一個月出了4次車禍,但是他4次都是零肇責,都是被人家擦撞,我覺得政府不應該把這個東西,全部歸類到外送員的身上,他應該去分別主因、次因,或者是零肇責”

[[吳木富執行秘書 交通部道安會]]
“我們的監理單位統計,外送員機車大概13萬部左右,他的事故率大概是2.08%,一般機車的事故率是1.88%,差不多多了一成左右,所以你不能講說他沒有風險,平台的業者他也必須要很關心,很注重他員工的安全,不管是雇傭或是勞雇關係,那是另外一件事情,所以現在勞動部也針對這塊作業安全指引,法規都開始訂”

台灣的機車小兵們,2021年已經超過1400萬輛,全民騎著它衝鋒陷陣,但是在交通法規中,機車卻是定位不明。

[[陳宏益 理事長 台灣交通安全協會]]
“我們把摩托車的界定有點含糊,有點視同腳踏車,有時候視同汽車,有時是快車,有時候是慢車,它在分類上的界定不明,有時候看到道路上禁行機車,有時候又沒有,有時候兩段,有時候不要兩段,所以造成摩托車的使用者,相對來說,他受到的干擾因素跟限制條件就會混淆,不容易操作”

不僅機車定位不明,各種道路設計、路權問題,在在都需要重新檢討。

[[陳宏益 理事長 台灣交通安全協會]]
“我們的交通法規,因為是1968年訂定的道路交通管理處罰條例,它已經過了半個世紀以上,是不是應該通盤的審視,包含車輛的分類,它所擁有的道路使用權限,是不是要規制化、明文化”

根據交通部統計,每年近3千個車禍死亡人口當中,機車騎士就佔了6成,而48萬名車禍受傷患者中,機車族更是高達7成7,學者進一步分析,18到20歲剛拿到駕照的新手,是車禍受傷最主要的族群。

[[張新立 教授 陽明交通大學運輸物流管理學系]]
“所以我曾經開玩笑說,這是台灣國民的成年禮,你18歲就開始騎摩托車,但是你要經過兩年的危險期,這兩年危險期,你如果受傷,死亡被淘汰了,就沒有了”

挺住兩年不出車禍,竟成了台灣人最暗黑的成年禮,除了道路環境混亂之外,成年之前沒有接受完整的駕駛教育,也是一大原因。

[[張新立 教授 陽明交通大學運輸物流管理學系]]
“因為我們一直在想,18歲之前的東西,都沒有人教他正確的方法,第一個沒有法規的意識,沒有安全的意識,沒有機車操作正確的方法,甚至對機車的性能不了解,連機車的特性都不了解就去用,這是很危險的,在緊急狀況也沒有人教你哪些有危險,應該怎麼做,再加上法規又不完整,所以真的來講,完全等於一個不懂遊戲規則的人,去跟人家玩遊戲”

民眾騎機車騎一輩子,但事實上,可能從來沒有接受過正規的教育,在自家門口練騎幾次就上路,觀念與技術不足,可能變成馬路三寶,甚至造成更嚴重的傷亡。

[[新聞報導]]
“機車和曳引車原本並行,女騎士後來往左偏,就在監視器沒拍到的角度,機車被後方的曳引車撞擊倒地,遭到右側輪輾斃”

[[新聞報導]]
“這名戴著藍綠色安全帽的女子,騎機車在新莊中正路上,就在經過路口的時候,她切入內車道,騎士來不及反應,擦撞之後人飛了出去”

回顧過去最常發生的交通事故,像是未保持安全車距,變換車道沒有查看有無來車,大型車視線死角,都是經常發生嚴重傷亡的主因,馬路戰場如何自保,增加知識是重要的一環。

[[教練]]
“好,所有的學員要注意到停車並且左右查看有無來車,當車輛通過時才方可通行”

來到駕訓班,今天要上的是專為機車騎士開設的駕訓課程,除了法規知識,安全駕駛習慣,還實地演練,教導防禦駕駛的觀念與技巧。

[[教練]]
“摩托車跟得太近,導致追撞”

沒有保持安全距離,視野被前車阻擋,當前車突然轉彎就發生追撞。

距離路旁的車太近,車門突然打開,閃避不及直接撞上去。

[[教練]]
“他們兩個同時並行,大客車只是稍微往右轉一點點而已,後面車身的底盤就撞到摩托車了”

騎在大貨車旁邊,當貨車右轉時,整個被撞倒,還捲入車底,相當驚險,像這些經常在馬路上遇到的突發狀況,駕訓班一一教導學員,如何透過防禦駕駛自保自救。

[[陳永親 理事長 汽車駕駛教育學會]]
“我們在騎摩托車很容易犯一個錯,就是會騎到大車的前面,騎到這邊來的時候,我覺得他看得到我,可是實際上,等一下我們上去看,到底看不看得到,你看一下前面那台摩托車,是不是完全看不到,坐在這邊完全看不到它,這樣是不是很危險,我們坐上駕駛座才知道,原來他看不到我”

大貨車的視野死角相當多,機車明明就停在大貨車旁邊,但從貨車的後照鏡一看,竟然完全看不見,經常導致悲劇發生,機車騎士上路前,親身體會了解才能避免誤闖禁區。

[[吳女士 機車駕訓班學員]]
“我也稍微會騎,有來這裡練比較安全,有正規的教練教你,比較專業,自己學有些不知道,父母親,我們山上太多人沒有駕照了,所以他們教我們的,我們不知道哪一種才是最正確的”

交通部近幾年透過補助駕訓班學費,力推考機車駕照前,要先經過完整的教育訓練,幾年下來發現,受過訓練的騎士,比起沒有上過課的人,違規率下降三成,事故率也下降兩成。

[[陳永親 理事長 汽車駕駛教育學會]]
“一般像摩托車其實還不便宜,隨便七、八萬很多,很多家長寧願花了七、八萬,可是他可能不會考量去花個兩、三千,讓孩子去做防禦駕駛的訓練,所以我倒是覺得說與其你給他摩托車,倒不如給他一個教育”

除了上路前,應該有充分的駕駛教育之外,台灣考照制度太簡單,是另一個被詬病的問題。

[[邱顯智 立法委員]]
“我們現在騎摩托車考照,騎到場地然後繞一下就結束,如果比較日本的話,它也可能會有急煞,可能會有人衝出來,可能會有各式各樣模擬的情境,到底這個人透過考照,是不是能夠駕駛動力交通工具,機車也好,汽車也好,這是一個非常大的問題”

另一方面,目前民眾考取,機車跟一般小客車駕照後,直到75歲以前一律免換照,對於有問題的駕駛,也缺乏進一步的監管。

[[張新立 教授 陽明交通大學運輸物流管理學系]]
“為什麼要換照,換照其實有一個很基本的功能,這個世界各國都有換照制度,在幾十年之間,整個環境、法規、設施很多都變了,沒有辦法借助他來換照的過程,再給他再教育,如果他的違規記點很多,他違規點數很多,也應該要再給他一些,必要的輔導跟教育”

[[吳木富 執行秘書 交通部道安會]]
“這個是可以有多面向一起去努力的,因為考照到換照,這些事情是要全面性去設計,它是一個監理很重要的一環,但是也不能躁進,但是我們現在已經從高齡開始做起,當然如果他慢慢產生一些效果以後,我們可以再往前擴散,但是只要大家有共識的話,這件事情應該還是可以去做”

交通問題已然是國安危機,從法規、道路設計,駕駛文化到考照制度,在在都需要全面的檢討與更新。

[[陳宏益理事長 台灣交通安全協會]]
“這個莫名的危機感,其實已經充滿在每個人的心中,人生活有免於恐懼的自由,這個是人權的一部分,我們時時刻刻生活在交通恐懼當中,這也不是一個先進,文明國家,應該有的狀態”

台灣是否能擁有更安全的交通環境,除了政府必須加快改革腳步外,每天在馬路上馳騁的你我,對於什麼是安全,也必須有更多的理解與共識。

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DPP goes into election mode at National Party Congress with President Tsai at helm

2022-07-17