[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Enforce traffic laws

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[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Enforce traffic laws

In a column under the headline “Make people obey the law” on Thursday, Choi Chul-joo wonders why Korean drivers are so impatient and lacking in common sense.
To answer that fully would take a serious discussion of Confucianism and the social conditions of an overcrowded country, but with regard to traffic, the answers are simpler: Traffic laws aren’t enforced.
First, Korean bus drivers are clearly above the law and operate with virtual impunity. I’ve been on buses that cut off police cars with zero retribution, not even a cursory honking of the horn. Also, bus companies require a certain number of round-trips per shift, in effect punishing drivers for not breaking traffic laws.
Next in the hierarchy are taxi drivers, who all know by heart where speed cameras are located and accelerate like Formula One drivers between them.
While lacking the license to kill that bus drivers carry, cabbies do break most traffic regulations and even take shortcuts through campuses or pay parking lots unavailable to buses and “civilian” drivers.
My biggest heartbreak, however, is when I see infants or children sitting unbelted on the laps of adults in the front passenger seat.
Every day in Seoul I can witness this incredibly ignorant and dangerous situation, often exacerbated by a driver watching a dash-mounted television and/or chatting on a cell phone!
Mr. Choi’s vexations have a simple solution: Enforce current laws for all drivers and bring on heavy fines and license-point schemes to make drivers more responsible. You can’t legislate common sense, but money speaks everyone’s language.

by Kris DeVaar
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