Korean drivers angry at new school zone traffic law

03-Jun-2020 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Korea is not a safe place to be a pedestrian.

It’s common for drivers to ignore pedestrians and even run them over. According to OCED statistics, Korea has the highest pedestrian casualty rate from car accidents, 3.3 per every 100,000 compared to the OECD average of one.

The same goes for children in school zones.

Although drivers are required to slow down to 30 kilometers an hour in designated school zones, not all children are protected ? last year six lost their lives and 577 were injured.

Lax law has been to blame.

In March, the law was finally toughened, triggered by another tragic accident, imposing graver punishments on drivers who either kill or injure children in school zones.

Under the revised law, a driver who kills a child younger than 13 years old is now subject to a minimum three years in prison and up to life imprisonment. If a child is injured, the driver, depending on the degree of injury, can face up to 15 years in prison. Previously, the driver received no more than five years in prison even for killing a child, or a fine of up to 20 million won.

The National Police Agency said 78 cases have been investigated for violating the new las since March. However, car insurance companies said they have seen more customers purchasing coverage for school zone accidents.

However, drivers show backlash to the move which was welcome by parents.

Critics of the new law argue they can make all drivers guilty even if the accident isn’t their fault. Also, they said drivers bear the excessive burden of proving innocence.

They took their opposition to Cheong Wa Dae’s online petition site demanding a revision and won more than 350,000 endorsements in one month.

The public anger also targeted the parents of the eight-year-old victim who was killed by a vehicle last September.

While mourning the death of their son, the parents tirelessly shared the story to the world and successfully pushed lawmakers to revise the laws. In a recent interview with the Hankook Ilbo, the sister paper of The Korea Times, the parents said they have been targeted by growing hatred and criticism online.

Answering the petition, the interior ministry stressed the importance of protecting children and made sure the law won’t make the innocent guilty.

“The worries that all drivers in school zones would be found guilty is excessive,” according to the ministry.

Police said the law has room for interpretation which could generate criticism, but it will not always assume drivers are guilty.

Police Chief Min Gab-ryong held a press conference Monday, vowing fair investigations for drivers.

An expert from the Korea Transportation Safety Authority (KTSA) said the goal of the new law is to develop behavior where pedestrians, especially children who tend to act unpredictably, are protected.



Category: Korea

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