Date
22 September 2017
The Department of Justice has successfully prosecuted the case by using data from the minibus' electronic traffic recorder, also known as the “black box”. Photo: HKEJ
The Department of Justice has successfully prosecuted the case by using data from the minibus' electronic traffic recorder, also known as the “black box”. Photo: HKEJ

Minibus driver, 68, gets 21 months in jail for fatal accident

A district court sentenced a minibus driver to 21 months in jail and suspended his driving license for five years after convicting him of dangerous driving resulting in death, Apple Daily reports.

Lee Kai-hei, 69, knocked over a 23-year-old man surnamed Chan on Tai Po Road on Feb. 10 last year, the third day of the Lunar New Year.

Since December 2014, minibuses are required by law to install an electronic traffic recorder, commonly referred to as “black box”.

It was data from the device that Department of Justice prosecutors used to file charges against Lee.

Lee was found to be driving at 64 kilometers per hour while the speed limit at the scene of the accident, outside Parc Versailles on Tai Po Road, was only 50kph.

The victim was running across the street to make it to a Lunar New Year family dinner when he was hit by the speeding minibus and sent flying for five meters. He died the next day due to head trauma.

During the trial, the defense called Engineering Associate Professor Cheung Kie-chung from the University of Hong Kong as a professional witness to argue that data from the black box was not entirely accurate but the testimony was rejected by the court.

Lee’s daughter wrote a plea letter, hoping that any jail time can be replaced by a community service order, but the judge said he could not make such a decision as Lee had taken away the life of a young man.

The defense also pleaded that Lee, after driving for 13 years as a minibus driver, had had only minor records for speeding and two counts of careless driving, with no criminal record.

The judge pointed out that while the victim himself had been at fault for running across the road without paying attention to traffic, as an experienced driver Lee should have known that the road section has always been jaywalked and should have driven with caution.

The judge also said that although the views of Lee and Chan could have been blocked by a double-decker bus on the roadside, Lee was still at fault for driving around at 8 p.m. with headlights off.

It is possible that if he was not speeding and had turned on the headlights the accident could have been prevented, the judge said.

But considering that Lee is already 68, a reduced 21-month jail time was handed out.

Data from the black box was crucial in the successful prosecution of the case.

The device records data digitally, including sensors, time, date, speed, any acceleration or deceleration, and even the status of the minibus system across different time intervals.

If a driver is suspected of speeding, police can retrieve data from the black box to assist in the investigation of the case.

Aside from stripping Lee of his driving license, the court also required him to take up a Driver Improvement Scheme course at his expense.

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EL/BN/CG

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