Top 5 car safety tips to follow during Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Kwiksure Article

Chinese New Year is just a blink of an eye away, and it’s time to say goodbye to the year of the monkey as we celebrate the new year of the rooster come January 28. Whether you’re going to be visiting family members or travelling overseas, those of you who will be driving or parking your car during the holidays should be aware of the additional car-related risks associated with the Lunar New Year holiday period. This week’s article provides some key advice on ensuring car safety during CNY in Hong Kong.

1. Don’t drink and drive

Chinese New Year is a time filled with family gatherings and parties, and also a time when alcohol is often consumed in copious amounts. If you’ve had one too many baijius, be sure to avoid driving back home, even if it seems tempting at the time. Driving under the influence (DUI) can significantly reduce your reaction time, thus increasing the risk of road accidents.

If found drink driving in Hong Kong, you’ll be subject to penalties that are among the strictest in the world. Penalties are administered according to a tier-based system, as shown in the table below. Please note that all DUI convictions are attached with a maximum fine of $25,000 and 3 years’ imprisonment.

Proportion of alcohol in the driver’s breath/ blood/ urine

Minimum driving disqualification period - first conviction

Minimum driving disqualification period - subsequent convictions

Tier 1: Blood alcohol content that exceeds the “prescribed limit” of 22mcg / 50mg / 67mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath / blood / urine respectively, but is under 35mcg/ 80mg/ 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath/ blood / urine respectively

6 months

2 years

Tier 2: Blood alcohol content that exceeds tier 1 but is less than 66mg / 150mg / 201mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath / blood / urine respectively

1 year

3 years

Tier 3: Blood alcohol content that exceeds the tier 2 level

2 years

5 years

Source: The Hong Kong Transport Department

If convicted with a DUI, you’ll also face large increases to your car insurance premium - it’s not uncommon to see premiums go up by 100% after the first infraction! Further DUI convictions way result in insurers refusing to underwrite you, and driving without car insurance is illegal in almost all countries (including Hong Kong).

2. Don’t drive when you’re tired

Chinese New Year celebrations can be tiring, especially when you’ve got events lined up every day and night during the holidays. Driving while you’re tired can also be very dangerous, especially when looking at the results of a UK study which found that 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related. As a matter of fact, driving when you’re tired can be as dangerous as driving under the influence, as it also leads to slower reaction times and increases the risk of drifting out of your lane.

There’s no breathalyzer out there that measures how tired you are, so it can be hard to determine whether you’re alert enough to drive. It’s important that you are aware of the signs of fatigue, which include drowsiness, yawning, and a loss of concentration, and avoid or take a break from driving if you exhibit these signs.

3. Be sure to follow road rules

You may be on holiday, but many members of the Hong Kong Police Force are definitely going to be working during CNY, and will be exercising additional precautions during this period to protect the safety of pedestrians when fireworks and flower fairs are expected to generate large crowds. To avoid accidents, it’s important that you follow all the road rules set out by the Hong Kong Transport Department - that includes driving within the speed limit.

To accommodate pedestrianization during CNY, the Hong Kong Police Force has outlined in their press release a number of road closures and diversions that will be taking place over the next few days. This means drivers will have to be extra cautious when driving, as Hong Kong takes speeding very seriously. To find out how the police ticket speeders in HK, be sure to check out our article on speeding rules here.

4. Find a safe place to park your car

The Hong Kong Police Force press release mentioned above also entails a number of public parking space suspensions, including busy roads such as Tung Lo Wan Road, Lockhart Road between Canal Road East and Cannon Street, Jaffe Road, etc. To ensure that you get a parking space, it’s important that you find an adequate and secure parking space ahead of time, as spaces will be more limited due to the busy period and parking space suspensions in several locations.

The abundant presence of red packets (lai see) inevitably attracts the attention of thieves, and they may even try to break into cars in the hopes of finding some red envelopes that have been stored inside the vehicle. Therefore it’s important you park your car in a secure, attended lot decked with security cameras, as this can significantly minimize the chances of your car being broken into.

In the unfortunate event that your car is broken into, claims will likely be settled much quicker if your car has been parked in an attended lot.

5. Going away for CNY? Remember to remove all valuables from your car

If you’re going away for Chinese New Year, be sure to remove all your valuables from your car. This is because, in most cases, theft coverage in your comprehensive or third party motor policy won’t cover personal items left in your car, as it will only cover the vehicle and its components. Also don’t forget to close your car windows, and consider purchasing an anti-theft device for additional security.

If you’d like to find out more about car safety or would like to have a chat about your car insurance policy, feel free to contact our insurance advisors today!