Motion on “Stop Drinking and Driving”(2009.02.18)

President, in these past few years, some serious incidents causing deaths and casualties would happen from time to time here in Hong Kong as a result of drink driving. Just sometime before the Chinese New Year, a serious car accident happened in which six persons were killed. Like all the people of Hong Kong, I was overwhelmed with grief at learning about this accident. I have a great query: Do these drink drivers really know how great a responsibility they have? In fact, apart from moral and criminal responsibilities, these drivers overlook the fact that they may end up being bankrupt after they are convicted.

I would like to tell some facts from the insurance angle to draw the attention of drivers and owners of vehicles, including those owners of vehicles who hire drivers, in the hope that after they have been told these facts, they will remind themselves not to drive after they have drunk and warn the drivers they hire not to do so. As early as since 2002, most of the insurance companies in Hong Kong have stipulated in the contracts of motor car insurance policies that a driver convicted of drink driving will not get any compensation for the accident so caused. According to the laws of Hong Kong, compensation for the injury or death of a third party will be paid out by the insurance company concerned first.

Then the insurance company will recover the money from the driver or the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident. In other words, the driver in a drink driving accident and the owner of the vehicle concerned will not be covered by the insurance policy and so all the compensation they are required to pay are to be paid by them.

A person seriously injured in a car accident may be awarded a stupendous sum of money as compensation. For example, a young person in the prime of his career who suffers permanent paralysis in a car accident may be awarded compensation to the tune of tens of million dollars. For the driver in the accident, apart from having to bear the criminal and moral responsibilities, he may be subject to a recovery action and be required to pay the compensation. If he is unable to pay it, he will have to go bankrupt. So I wish to remind drivers that they should never ever think that once they have taken out an insurance policy, then they do not have to worry about the duty to pay compensation. On the contrary, a driver who has caused injury and death owing to drink driving is highly likely to be required to pay this huge sum of compensation and more often then not, he will have to go bankrupt and his family will suffer.

Moreover, I must remind owners of vehicles who hire drivers in a business undertaking that if the driver they hire is involved in an accident caused by drink driving and in which injury or death results, not only the driver but also the owner of the vehicle will have to bear the responsibility. So the employers must watch out for their drivers and warn them against doing anything that will harm not just themselves but others. Also, vehicle owners must be wary of the fact that if they lend their vehicles to other people and if the driver concerned commits drink driving, the vehicle owner will also be charged and be held liable.

In order to crack down on drink driving, I will support the motion today and all the amendments in the hope that this problem of drink driving in Hong Kong can be stamped out. Deputy President, I so submit.

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