March 25, 2016 12:35
Jeju Island has seen a surge in tourism, but it has been accompanied by a spike in accidents involving rental cars.
Insurance industry insiders attribute the rise to errors by drivers who are not used to the roads and climatic conditions of the southern resort island.
Jeju officials have now asked the government to set a mandatory speed limit of 90 km/h for rental cars on the island.
The number of accidents involving rented cars rose from 393 in 2014 to 527 last year, island authorities said Thursday, or 1.4 accidents a day. The number of injuries also rose from 655 in 2013 to 955 last year.
Jeju police analyzed rental-car accidents in 2014 and found that 54.4 percent involved speeding or reckless driving, followed by failing to slow down at crossings (21.1 percent), disobeying traffic signals (6.8 percent) and crossing the yellow line (4.5 percent).
A Jeju official said unfamiliar roads and fickle weather, which often lead to sudden showers and fog, were the main causes of accidents.
Some 66 percent of all visitors to Jeju rent cars, and the official said a speed limit is urgently needed.
But the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said there is no country in the world where rental cars are subject to a separate speed limit, so it would be impossible to enforce.
But Jeju residents are demanding that something be done. The number of island residents who were hurt or killed in rental-car accidents rose from 163 in 2014 to 333 last year (four killed, 329 injured).
Song Kyu-jin, who works for a traffic institute on the island, said, "A lot of Jeju residents are afraid of getting hit by rented cars, so we have to come up with a way of applying a speed limit for rental cars.
And Koh Byeong-gon at the Samsung Traffic Safety Research Institute said, "Rental cars are fully insured, so drivers tend to floor the accelerator. We need to change regulations so drivers of rental cars are held liable for accidents they cause, as is the case in foreign countries."
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