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6/1/2005
China, Hong Kong Embrace Camera Enforcement
Camera enforcement is heavy in mainland China, expanding in Hong Kong.

Shenzhen
Chinese officials have embraced the red light camera. Last December, a taxi driver in the capital city of Beijing faced severe punishment when cameras caught him driving through a series of red lights to bring a pregnant woman to the hospital to deliver a baby. The fine for each light run is 200 yuan (US $24), but his ability to work was threatened because running four lights triggers an automatic license suspension.

In Shenzhen, one of mainland China's most advanced cities, cameras are everywhere -- 816 red light cameras watch the region's 599 roads. The city was established to compete with the then-British controlled, free market Hong Kong before it was returned to China in 1997.

The Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong has been quick to embrace the technology. Last May the island spent 24.7 million HKD (US $3.1 million) to double the number of speed and red light cameras. Now legislators plan to boost the number of red light cameras from 28 to 96. They also plan to boost the fine from 450 to 600 HKD (US $77) and demerit points from three to five. Legislators had planned to raise points to eight, but a union representing 31,000 taxi drivers threatened a "slow drive" protest if they did so.

The program continues to generate significant revenue. The city currently issues around 200,000 tickets annually with its speed cameras. Speed has been shown not to be a major factor in Hong Kong traffic accidents.



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