🛣️ Last October, an internet user named Hon proposed on the participation platform (join.gov.tw) that “We should remove the speed limit for the inner lanes, raise the speed limit for the middle lanes, and allow slow vehicles on the inner lanes.” Hon added, “Fast vehicles may use inner lanes and will avoid car crashes caused by the frequent lane change, which makes the freeways safer.” “It will reduce the time of traveling between two places and the fatigue of drivers traveling for a long time.”

🚦 In fact, the Article 8.1.1 and Article 8.1.3 in the Freeway and Expressway Traffic Control Regulations issued by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications stipulated that “Any slower small vehicles whose speed is below 80 km/hr on the freeway sections whose speed limit is over 90 km/hr…should be kept on the outer lanes. They can access the adjacent outer lanes temporarily should they wish to pass the vehicles in front.” “The inner lanes are the passing lanes. However, small vehicles may travel on the inner lanes within the speed limit specified for the road section in question as long as they do not hold up the traffic.” Yet, according to Article 8.2, “Small vehicles may be exempt from the restrictions of Article 8.1.1 and Article 8.1.3 if there’s a traffic jam.”

⚖️ Besides, according to the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act, if vehicle drivers fail to drive on the inner lanes as required, they shall be fined from NT$3,000 to NT$6,000. The National Highway Police Bureau (NHPB) issued more than 36,000 tickets against such violators from 2017 to 2019. Hence, Hon’s proposal to regard the inner lanes as the passing lanes not only has a legal basis but also has aligned with the enforcement measures of recent years.

⛰️ However, Taiwan has its reasons for setting freeway speed limits. On the one hand, they need to consider the downtown section and the complex terrain, such as plains, hills, and plateaus, which results in numerous bends. Therefore, it’s hard to allow an infinite speed. On the other hand, the Institute of Transportation, MOTC, released “An analysis of traffic accidents before and after the freeway speed limit adjustment” in 2004. One of the conclusions in this analysis is that “The A1 accident rate of the road sections with a higher speed limit is indeed greater than that of the road sections whose speed limit is not adjusted (A1 is defined as ‘the traffic accidents that cause people to die on the scene or within twenty-four hours.’).” In other words, whether to cancel the speed limit for the inner lanes or raise the speed limit for the middle lanes remains to be discussed.

🙋 Concerning the above information and consideration, the Public Digital Innovation Office (PDIS) of the Executive Yuan, which is my office, and the two responsible units, that is, the NHPB and the Freeway Bureau (FB), convened a collaboration meeting on March 6th to discuss the core issue of “How to give priority to the inner lanes for vehicle overtaking and allow vehicles to run at the highest speed limit under normal traffic to improve the freeway traffic flow and the safety of users?” Interested parties were invited to the discussion.

🔢 The meeting was successful. First, participants could further explore and promote the rationality of the policy according to which the inner lanes on the freeways are the passing lanes. Second, it urged the FB to release more statistical data that can serve as a reference for the NHPB to ramp up its technology-based law enforcement and increase the efficiency of the police force distribution.