Gov’t bows to social-media pressure, suspends safety upgrades for scooters

Motorcyclists enter an intersection under the Taipei Bridge in this undated file photo. According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the implementation of a new safety regulation has been suspended amid public complaints over the cost. (NOWnews file photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) – The implementation of a new regulation mandating that all new scooters in Taiwan must be equipped with either an anti-lock braking system (ABS) or a combined braking system (CBS) with effect from 2021 has been suspended amid public complaints over the cost, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said Tuesday.

Two days ago, the ministry said that starting January next year, new scooter models released on the domestic market must have one of the two braking systems, depending on their engine size.

Furthermore, with effect from Jan. 1, 2021, buyers of all new scooters, regardless of the release date, must ensure installation of the ABS or CBS system, which prevents scooter wheels from locking up during braking and thus helps maintain better traction on the road surface, the MOTC said.

However, with the installation cost of the braking systems estimated at NT$1,500 (US$49) to NT$8,000 per unit, there has been a barrage of complaints on social media and elsewhere against the rules, mainly by scooter owners who described themselves as financially disadvantaged.

The debate over road safety and people’s spending power escalated to the point where President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) intervened Tuesday, urging the relevant authorities to come up with measures to help ease the financial burden on scooter owners.

In response, the MOTC said the regulations pertaining to new scooter models released after the end of this year will stand but it has suspended the implementation date for the second phase of the rules, which would have put the onus of scooter buyers to ensure that their new motorbikes were equipped with the safer braking system.

The ministry said it will meet with motorcycle manufacturers on Wednesday to discuss ways of making the cost of ABS and CBS systems more affordable but it did not say when the second phase of the regulations might take effect.

According to the amended Vehicle Safety Testing Directions, which are due to take effect next year, motorcycle models with 125cc engines or smaller must be fitted with ABS or CBS, while those with engines that are 126cc or larger must be equipped with ABS.

The aim of the new regulation is to reduce traffic casualties by 30 percent per year, the MOTC had said earlier, citing research conducted in the European Union and Japan.

By Lee Hsin-Yin