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Living in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Traffic: Rules & Emergencies
If you plan on hitting the road in Hong Kong, traffic regulations are the first thing you should learn by heart. They might be very different from those you’re used to from your home country. Our guide gives you an overview of regulations, penalties, and what to do in case of a traffic accident.
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Essential Traffic Regulations
In many countries which have been under British rule, and this also applies for Hong Kong, traffic moves on the left side of the road. All other major traffic rules, as well as further tips for safe driving, are listed in the Road User’s Code issued by the Transport Department. Below is some information on the most important regulations.
The usual speed limit on all roads is 50 km/h. On major roads within the city, traffic can legally move as fast as 70 km/h, 80 km/h, 100 km/h, or 110 km/h. High speed zones are always clearly marked.
You may overtake only on the right unless there are traffic queues. If there is a double white line on the street, with the solid line closer to you than the dotted one, you are forbidden to cross the line and overtake other cars.
In general, cars coming from minor roads must give way to traffic on main roads. At larger intersections, right of way is regulated by road signs. There are “give way” and “stop” signs, which indicate that you have to stop even if there is no traffic.
When entering roundabouts, which are becoming more and more popular in Hong Kong, traffic on your right has right of way. Signal left when you exit the roundabout again.
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Alcohol and Mobile Phones
Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal, and penalties for all offenses are severe. The limit is 50 mg alcohol per 100 ml of blood.
The police have the right to demand a breath test if they suspect you are over this limit. If the breath test indicates that their suspicion is correct, they will take you to the police station for additional blood and/or urine tests.
Moreover, using mobile phones while driving is prohibited. You may only use a hands-free system for talking on the phone in your car.
Offenses and Penalties
In Hong Kong, traffic offenses are met with two kinds of penalties. First, there are strong penalties on driving offenses.
Any offense considered dangerous driving by the government (a list of all dangerous driving offenses is available online) can incur a maximum fine of HKD 25,000, as well as three years of imprisonment and/or a disqualification from driving for at least six months.
If the dangerous driving offense leads to the death of a person, the maximum fine goes up to HKD 50,000. You may be imprisoned for ten years and/or face disqualification from driving for at least five years.
In addition to fines and other penalties, certain offenses against Hong Kong traffic regulations carry driving-offense points. The data concerning your traffic offenses is centrally recorded.
If you have received ten points within a period of two years, you have to attend a course to become a better driver and pay for those lessons yourself. If you get as many as 15 points or more during the two-year period, your license can be revoked for at least three months.
Just to give you an idea: failing to comply with traffic signs will earn you five points, exceeding the speed limit by more than 15 km/h three points, and driving under the influence of alcohol ten points.
Accidents and Emergencies
In Hong Kong, traffic accidents are no less common than in other cities of its size. If you get into an accident, you should first warn the other motorists with hazard warning lights and a warning triangle. Then get help by calling either the emergency number 999 or using one of the roadside emergency telephones. Provide first aid, if necessary, and stay at the site of the accident until the emergency services arrive.
Traffic accidents leading to injury of persons or damage of property need to be reported to the police. This includes minor incidents, such as damaging a traffic sign. Report to the police within 24 hours after the incident occurred. If you damage another car in a parking lot and you don’t know how to contact the owner, you also need to go straight to the police.
The Hong Kong Automobile Association (HKAA) can be of help if your car ever breaks down on you in the midst of Hong Kong traffic. They also operate a free 24-hour emergency rescue service. For help, call 3583-3628.