31 minibus passengers face a maximum penalty of three months in jail and a HK$5,000 fine for not wearing seatbelts after a police sting operation on Hong Kong Island caught dozens riding without first buckling up.
Police boarded and searched dozens of minibuses in the operation, codenamed Kickstarter, dishing out 31 summonses for the seatbelt offences and hitting minibus drivers with 157 tickets for traffic violations.
While passengers face the maximum penalty of jail time, the drivers’ tickets carry only financial penalties and licence points.
Over 1,500 passengers had been prosecuted for minibus seatbelt offences between 2018 and 2020, the last year police provided figures. Police could not provide conviction or sentencing statistics on those prosecutions.
Under Hong Kong law, minibus passengers are required to wear seatbelts if they are fitted.
But passengers have complained the minibus seatbelts are not always in working order. Parents who used the green minibus number 9, for example, to collect children from Borrett Road schools often complained the seatbelt retractors would regularly jam such that they couldn’t be extended or would not recoil or tighten.
In several cases of complaint, Transport Department had pledged to inspect the belts, yet the problematic belts remained broken for years.