Speed as a causation factor in Hong Kong
Official figures show that speed in excess of a speed limit is a contributory factor in just


of accidents.


A Safe Speed visitor quizzed the Hong Kong authorities about accident causation factors, and forwarded an Excel spreadsheet to us. The information supplied included email and postal addresses and has been verified.

We have reproduced the exact data supplied and performed some additional analysis. 

Hong Kong Injury Accidents related to speed.
Period  Severity  Speed related[1] Over speed limit [2]  Injury accidents  Speed related % Over Speed limit %
2000  Fatal  13  162  8.0% 3.7%
2000  Serious  67  2,838  2.4% 0.1%
2000  Slight  181  10  11,949  1.5% 0.08%
2000 Total  261  19  14,949  1.7% 0.13%
2001  Fatal  15  167  9.0% 1.8%
2001  Serious  75  3,165  2.4% 0.13%
2001  Slight  187  10  12,299  1.5% 0.08%
2001  Total  277  17  15,631  1.8% 0.11%
2002  Fatal  19  162  11.7% 1.9%
2002  Serious  125  3,118  4.0% 0.064%
2002  Slight  321  7 12,296  2.6% 0.057%
2002  Total  465  12  15,576  3.0% 0.08%
2003 [3]  Fatal  16  112  14.3% 1.8%
2003 [3]  Serious  81  1,679  4.8% 0.24%
2003 [3]  Slight  258  7,635  3.4% 0.026%
2003 [3]  Total  355  9,426  3.8% 0.085%

[1]  Number of injury accidents related to speed includes contributory factors of: "Exceeding the speed limit", "Driving too fast for road environment" and "Driving too fast for other road users" 

[2] Number of injury accidents related to "Exceeding the speed limit". 

[3] Provisional figures as at 2003-09-03; covering period January to August. 

Further Analysis

It is interesting to compare the number of "speed related" accidents with the number of accidents where "exceeding the speed limit" was recorded. Adding the figures for various years we get:

All years from above table. Speed Related Exceeding the speed limit Percentage of Speed related accidents which involve exceeding the speed limit
Fatal 63 14 22.2%
Serious 348 13 3.74%
KSI 411 27 6.6%
Slight 947 29 3.06%
Total 1358 56 4.12%

Obviously in Hong Kong only 4.18% of speed related accidents involve exceeding the speed limit.

Even for KSI accidents only 6.6% of speed related accidents involve exceeding the speed limit.

Out of 55,582 injury accidents only 56 had speed in excess of a speed limit as a contributory factor. That's just 0.1%

updated Verifying the figures

We received these data in an email from a third party. Obviously it was important that we verify that the figures are accurate. We wrote to Hong Kong Police for confirmation, and here is their reply:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I refer to your e-mail of 2003-09-15.

Please be informed that we provide the statistics in response to request from a member of the public overseas without knowing that it will be published on the Safe Speed web site.

I could only confirm that the figures provided are captured from our records available.  It depends on how you transform, interpret and select the figures.  You may well choose to say in year 2000, 8% of the fatal traffic accidents were speed related and it accelerates to an average of 14.3% in the first eight months of 2003.

It is understood that there is a school of thought that speed kills and in fact we have got request from members of the public advocating that there is a need to reduce speed in urban roads and other roads.  To conclude, Hong Kong's situation is rather different from the U.K.  We have an area of 1,100 km2 with a population of 6.8 million, 1,928 km of roads and 525,000 licensed vehicles.  You can imagine both the vehicular and pedestrian traffic are very heavy.  It is very important that all road users will show their mutual understanding and be law abiding when they are on the road.  I assure you that the Hong Kong Police will not tolerate speeding which is one of the contributory factors of traffic accidents.  We do take stringent enforcement against speeding drivers and place much effort on publicity and educating the motorists to drive at a safe speed and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front with a view to creating a safer road environment.

Rickshaws have become historical items in Hong Kong.  Overseas visitors are most welcome to experience the life of vitality in Hong Kong: "Pearl of the Orient".

Yours sincerely,

(Mrs. Betty LAM)
Chief Inspector of Police
Road Safety Unit
Traffic Branch Headquarters
Hong Kong Police Force
Secretary of Road Safety Council

Thanks Betty!

Note: We have published all the Hong Kong figures received, not a "selection", neither have we carried out any "transformations".

new Hong Kong realities

We have received a few emails about this page suggesting that Hong Kong traffic is dominated by rickshaws and rarely gets the opportunity to exceed the speed limit. Naturally if this were true, then the low figure for accidents caused by exceeding the speed limit would be very much a Hong Kong phenomenon. In stark contrast to this view is an email received from a British chap who actually lives in Hong Kong. Here's the email reproduced verbatim:

"In urban areas we have a 50 KPH limit and it is extremely difficult to keep within this figure without being flashed or blasted by a horn from the fellow [or lady] behind.  Of course in the city and in Kowloon where traffic is dense the limit can not exceeded, but once there is an open stretch of clear road, things change fast.

We have two major trunk roads which were built to UK motorway standards.  These serve all the way up to the Chinese border with limits varying from 70 KPH to 100 KPH.  The ratio of commercial traffic is very high, well over 60% when compared to private cars. The speed limits are generally exceeded and to make matters worse there is far too much tailgating.  I hate driving on these roads and only do so if it is absolutely essential.  There has been some government publicity on the dangers of tailgating, plus a few experimental sections of road with chevrons painted on the  surface indicating the proper separation between vehicles.

As you know Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 and the new administrators has since increased limits in some places and this has helped to speed up traffic flow.  For example the trunk roads were previously only 70 KPH, with new 80 KPH and 100 KPH sections introduced in the past few years.

We still generally follow the UK patterns of road signs, double yellow lines etc., with little tendency to make changes in this area."

Thanks Bob!
Safe Speed concludes

We've long been looking for improved estimates of the number of excessive speed accidents which actually involve exceeding a speed limit. We've been working on an estimate from Canadian research where one third of excessive speed accidents also involved exceeding a speed limit. This figures from Hong Kong suggest that even the Canadian estimate could be very high.

Hong Kong is a different environment to the UK. We obviously have a far greater percentage of rural roads, but most serious road accidents in the UK still take place in built up areas.

What might this mean in the context of UK roads fatal accidents? 3,400 accidents annually x 10% speed related x 22% in excess of a speed limit implies 75 fatalities which involve speed in excess of a speed limit. But there are two further factors to apply: We must discount the 75 "saveable lives" by a) the percentage of drivers who have such accidents but ignore the law (includes Joyriders, escaping criminals, Police drivers on emergency call) - say 50%, and further discount by a figure which represents "imperfect enforcement" and we know we have imperfect speed limit enforcement because millions of tickets are being issued annually. Call that 50% again. So calculate 75 x 50% x 50% = just 18 lives within reach of all the bonkers modern speed enforcement.

A similar calculation for serious injuries gives: 36,000 x 10% (speed related) x 6.6% (over the speed limit) x 90% (lawful drivers) x 50% (enforcement efficiency) = 107 serious injuries within reach of increased speed enforcement. (note that we have adjusted the proportion of "lawful" drivers up to 90% for serious injury accidents)

Against these potential savings in lives and serious injuries we must offset the negative effects of increased speed enforcement. (click here) We think those negative effects are huge, and now cost some 1,200 lives each year.

We really need an up to date UK estimate for the number of "excessive speed accidents" which also involve exceeding a speed limit. But evidence from Canada, and now Hong Kong suggests the number will be small or very small.

Let's make speed cameras as unacceptable as drink driving

We have a strict editorial policy regarding factual content. If any fact anywhere on this web site can be shown to be incorrect we promise to remove it or correct it as soon as possible.
Copyright © SafeSpeed 2003
Created 11/09/2003. Last update 22/09/2003