New technology in cars in Hong Kong must meet established standards

by Jonathan Adams

We refer to the letter from Mark Webb-Johnson on driver assistance technologies (“Why is Hong Kong so slow to adopt new technology?”, November 5).

Road safety is the prime concern of all transport authorities in the world, and the Hong Kong Transport Department is no exception. In Hong Kong, a new vehicle model needs to be examined and approved by the department to ensure its roadworthiness before vehicles of the model are registered. This is commonly known as type approval.

Any subsequent alterations to major functions related to the safety of the vehicle, such as brakes and steering, should be submitted to the department for assessment, as the altered function had not been assessed and examined at the type approval stage, and the altered vehicles cannot be considered as having been type-approved.

The department accepts new technologies as long as they are safe and meet established standards. We understand that, for example, the European Union also requires alterations/new technologies to obtain approval. Hong Kong’s approving system is on a par with international established practice. We have approved various advanced driver assistance systems such as active collision prevention, lane departure warning, advanced emergency braking and electronic stability control. For the Tesla model, we have already approved its auto parking, side collision warning and auto parking brake functions. We are still examining other functions Tesla intends to introduce to an already type-approved model to ensure the application of such technologies would not have any safety implication for road users.

We would also point out that, contrary to Mr Webb-Johnson’s understanding, electric commercial vehicles are not banned on expressways. Vehicles used on expressways need to meet certain performance requirements to maintain the overall efficiency of expressways. Currently, all electric buses and trucks meeting the requirements are issued with permits to allow them to travel on expressways. It is also not correct to say that there are no child seat regulations. There are requirements under the Road Traffic (Safety Equipment) Regulations (Cap. 374F) for a child aged under three travelling in a private car to be restrained by an approved child car seat.

The department has a duty to keep our roads safe and efficient. Our legislation is technology-neutral and allows new technology as long as the roadworthiness of vehicles on our roads is not compromised.

This article is for information purposes only.
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