3/20/2007

Sidewalk motorcyclists to face stiffer penalties

Sidewalk motorcyclists to face stiffer penalties

March 20, 2007 Joongangilbo

The National Police Agency announced it will enforce a massive crackdown in May against motorcyclists who ride their bikes on sidewalks and crosswalks. The practice is the source of many complaints by foreign visitors to Korea.

According to a recent agency survey of 154,000 motorcyclists at 50 major intersections nationwide, more than nine out of 10 crossed roads on pedestrian crosswalks. About 63 percent failed to halt at the stop line and 47 percent did not use the lane nearest to the sidewalk that is reserved for motorcycles. More than one out of 10 motorcyclists rode on the sidewalks, according to the survey.

The number of motorcycle accidents has increased as well, from 10,269 in 2004 to 12,161 in 2005 and 13,635 last year, according to the agency.

During January and February, 1,750 accidents occurred in which 100 were killed, up from 72 deaths during the same months last year when 1,303 accidents occurred.
Last year, 6.2 people were killed for every 100 motorcycle accidents, double the death rate in car accidents.

Experts say that motorcyclists’ lack of respect for traffic regulations and police leniency toward violations has resulted in the increase and severity of motorcycle accidents.

In a survey of 623 motorcyclists who violated traffic regulations, 44 percent said they wanted to save time and 34 percent said they could not be bothered to keep the regulations.

“As the fast delivery service industry has grown, the number of motorcycle accidents is also increasing,” said a police official. “It is difficult to check the motorcycles because they often do not obey orders to stop.”

The police said they will launch a crackdown from early May on motorcycles running on sidewalks or crosswalks, motorcycle drivers not wearing helmets and motorcycles making excessive noise.


By Lee Chul-jae JoongAng Ilbo [soejung@joongang.co.kr]

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com