By Michael Evans
A raft of stricter new traffic laws came into effect across China beginning Jan 1, mandating harsher penalties for a wider range of violations in a bid to curb the alarming number of fatal accidents on the country’s motorways. According to the China Daily:
The revised regulation imposes much heavier penalties on drivers who violate traffic rules. Under it, 52 different sorts of violations can result in punishment, up from 38 under the previous regulation.
Some other common violations, such as speeding, making phone calls while driving, and drinking and driving, will also result in heavier penalties.
Eleven violations, including drink driving and using fake license plates, will now result in suspension of a driver’s license, requiring offenders to re-take training and pass a test. Previously, drivers would have to commit two such infractions to incur suspension.
Authorities hope that stricter rules will help reduce the number of fatal accidents on China’s roads. In 2011, the country saw a total of 211,000 traffic accidents, resulting in 62,000 fatalities, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
However, both the total number of accidents and traffic deaths have steadily declined in recent years, even as the number of drivers on the road has gone up. In 2006, China experienced more than 378,000 accidents, killing 89, 455 people.
Meanwhile, as the China Daily reports:
The number of new vehicles on Chinese roads has been increasing by about 20 million annually in the past several years. By the end of 2011, more than 200 million automobiles were in use in the country.
Still, traffic safety is widely seen as a major problem, a view reinforced by stories of fatal accidents regularly making headlines in the Chinese media.