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Traffic law shores up road safety
By Liu Chang (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-29 00:42

Traffic safety in Beijing has improved since the Road Traffic Safety Law went into effect in May, say top traffic officials.

During the first nine months this year, a total of 1,139 people were killed in 1,029 traffic accidents in Beijing, said the Beijing Public Security Bureau of Traffic Administration yesterday.

The two figures marked decreases of 8.8 per cent and 9.3 per cent compared with the same period last year.

"This is the first ever decrease in the death toll in traffic accidents after continuous increases in recent years," Wang Li, vice-director of the bureau, said yesterday.

Wang attributed the improvement to the adoption of the Road Traffic Safety Law.

"The adoption of the law has effectively enhanced residents' sense of abiding by it as there was no such a law in the past," she said.

Wang made the remarks yesterday in Beijing.

Meanwhile, statistics showed that during the five months by October 20, a total of 2,210 drunk drivers were detained, while the figure of the same period last year was 7,540.

Some 4,100 drivers were caught driving without a licence, down from 4,900 the year before.

Meanwhile, some 50,000 tickets were handed out this year for such offenses as passing illegally, speeding and overloads, down from the 360,000 last year, sources said.

"As other factors remain the same this year with that of last year, the improvement reflects the law's effectiveness as the law has made punishment heavier," Wang said.

According to the official, in the past, to overload vehicles was fined 5 yuan (60 US cents) but now the penalty is between 200 yuan (US$24) to 2,000 yuan (US$240).

"Driving licence can also be revoked for overloading," she said.

But Wang pointed out that there are still problems in law enforcement.

"There is conflict between the Road Traffic Safety Law and the current insurance law," she said.

According to the Road Traffic Safety Law, the compulsory third party insurance should pay compensation to victims in traffic accidents between motor vehicles and pedestrians or non-motorized vehicles.

But the current insurance rules say that only the insurance company has to pay only when the insured driver is at fault..

"But I think the latest Road Traffic Safety Law should be given priority in enforcement," she said.

"Compulsory insurance is not the only solution to aiding victims in traffic accidents," Jia Haimao, vice-chairman of the People's Insurance Company of China Property and Casualty Company Ltd, said yesterday.

Jia urged the government to draft relevant rules related to compulsory third party insurance as soon as possible.

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