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Roadway accidents become top killer
( 2003-11-17 08:25) (China Daily)

With the soaring growth in the national economy and an ever-growing number of motor vehicles on the road, China is experiencing a huge upsurge in traffic accidents and fatalities.

According to Ministry of Public Security statistics, casualties caused by traffic accidents stood at 109,363 in 2002, or 78.5 per cent of those killed in all accidents across China.

Traffic accidents, with 75,841 in the first nine months this year, have become the top killer among various accidents across the nation, officials said.

Traffic Administration officials under the ministry said the main cause for these accidents is that drivers did not pay attention to traffic rules and regulations.

A recently released finding disclosed that nearly half of the drivers - polled at entrances or exits of several expressways in Beijing and Shanghai - said they had dozed off while driving.

With instrument tests and questionnaires involving 516 drivers, the survey was conducted jointly in March by the administration and Sanofi-Synthelabo Group, a large French pharmaceutical company.

Results indicated 24 per cent of the respondents had driven when they felt "really exhausted" while 10 per cent had dozed while driving on the day they were polled.

Instrument tests showed that 20 per cent of those expressing exhaustion took a longer time to react due to fatigue, which is believed to be a major hidden danger for traffic accidents.

It is reported that according to incomplete statistics, the number of traffic accidents triggered by fatigue is as much as one-fifth of the total number in Beijing.

Conversely, a lack of driver awareness of this danger amplifies the risks on the road.

A veteran taxi driver surnamed Song told China Daily that he normally feels sleepy at around midnight. That's even though his working hours are from 10 am through 2 am, meaning he spends at least two hours driving every day while feeling sleepy.

The number of motor vehicles in Beijing exceeds 2 million with more than 3 million people getting drivers licences as of this September, and the total is still on the rise.

Statistics released by the administration show that the number of traffic accidents across the country totalled 773,137 in 2002, with a year-on-year increase of 6.3 per cent over that in 1986.

But the current poor traffic safety is greatly involved with the nation's economic and social development, Duan Liren, a traffic project expert, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

Duan holds that the robust economic development and the improvement of people's living standards, along with the associated accelerating rise in population and the numbers of vehicles and drivers, have led to frequent accidents.

Internationally, many countries like the United States, Britain and Japan also experienced such a period after World War II, when the number of traffic accidents increased sharply.

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