Following is a question by the Hon Charles Peter Mok and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Yau Shing-mu, in the Legislative Council today (October 22):
Telematics connects smart devices and cloud platforms through radio waves to provide drivers with driving information, communication and web page browsing features, etc. On the other hand, section 37 of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374A) stipulates that a visual display unit used for displaying information about vehicle navigation, the current closed-circuit view of the area surrounding the vehicle, or the current state of the vehicle or its equipment, may be installed at a point forward of the driver’s seat or other points visible to or within reach of the driver whilst in the driving seat. However, installation of visual display units which enable the display of restricted information such as television programmes and stored visual images is not allowed. Some members of the industry and drivers have pointed out that the said provision fails to keep pace with the rapid development of telematics, causing new-generation systems being banned in Hong Kong and impeding the development of related technologies in the territory. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that the development of telematics is heading towards an interactive mode of operation, whether the authorities will study amending the aforesaid provision, so as to strike a balance between the need to apply new-generation systems in Hong Kong and the consideration for maintaining road safety; and
(2) whether the authorities have plans to study the application of new-generation telematics in Hong Kong, so as to cater for the development of intelligent transport systems and traffic management?
The reply to the various parts of the Hon Charles Mok’s question is as follows:
(1) The Government attaches great importance to road safety. To ensure that motorists will not be distracted by television programmes or other visual images while they are driving, Regulation 37 of the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations (Cap. 374A) (the Regulations) stipulates that a visual display unit visible to the driver whilst in the driver’s seat may only give the driver:
(a) information about the current state of the vehicle or its equipment;
(b) the current closed-circuit view of any part of the vehicle or the area surrounding the vehicle;
(c) information about the current location of the vehicle; or
(d) any other information which is only for the purpose of navigating the vehicle.
Due to road safety considerations, the Administration does not have any plan at the moment to revise the aforementioned requirements concerning the installation of visual display units inside vehicles. The new-generation telematics, regardless of whether they are operated under an interactive mode, may be installed and used inside a motor vehicle as long as the information displayed on their visual display units satisfy the requirements stipulated under the Regulations. Therefore, the legislation would not impede the application of new technologies.
(2) The Transport Department (TD) will continue to keep in view the latest developments in the technology of telematics. It will also keep up with the times and further develop our intelligent transport system to enhance the safety and efficiency of Hong Kong’s road network, and to disseminate traffic and transport information more effectively. While providing convenience to motorists, new-generation telematics should not affect road safety. TD welcomes the trade to use the information provided by the department’s Intelligent Road Network (including traffic directions, turning restrictions at road junctions, stopping restrictions, etc) in designing or developing automotive navigation systems.
Ends/Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:00