Common Traffic Offences
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3. Related to traffic lights and signs

It is probably superfluous to emphasize that a driver must comply with traffic lights and signs.  However, it is worth noting that there is a major but common misconception among drivers in Hong Kong that it is okay to go through an amber light.  That is simply not true.  Regulation 17(1)(e) of the Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations (Cap.374G of the Laws of Hong Kong) expressly stipulates that “where an amber light signal is provided it shall, when shown alone, indicate the prohibition that vehicular traffic shall not proceed beyond the stop line or, if the stop line is not for the time being visible or there is no stop line, beyond the light signals, except in the case of any vehicle which when the light signal first appears is so close to the stop line or light signals that it cannot safely be stopped before passing the stop line or light signals”.  Hence, one should stop before the light signals upon seeing the amber light unless it is not safe to do so.

Another common mistake frequently committed by drivers is the disregard of the “Stop” sign.  Octagonal “Stop” signs are usually placed on minor roads at their junction with major roads; and drivers are supposed to stop completely at the “Stop” sign before they enter the junction.  However, drivers tend to slow down before the sign and then proceed forward, thereby ignoring the rule that they are compelled to bring the vehicle to a complete standstill.

The maximum penalty for failure to comply with traffic lights and signs is a fine of $5,000 and imprisonment for 3 months for a first conviction, and a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for 6 months for a subsequent conviction.  However, it would normally be the case that a penalty under the Fixed Penalty System would be imposed unless the incident leads to serious injury or damage.