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Project aimed at promoting seatbelt use
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-27 06:16

GUANGZHOU: The China Seatbelt Intervention Organization, the country's first Sino-foreign project to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by traffic accidents, has been launched in Guangzhou.

Many promotional events will be launched over coming months to increase the use of seatbelts and further raise safety awareness among local drivers and passengers.

Also during the coming 12 months, traffic police in the city will record whether drivers and passengers involved in road accidents were wearing their seatbelts at the time.

Guangzhou has the highest number of road deaths per capita among Chinese cities, where nationally 107,000 people were killed on the roads last year, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

The one-year project that is also being supported by the World Health Organization has jointly been launched by the George Institute for International Health, at the University of Sydney in Australia, and various Chinese Government departments.

The departments include the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Health and the Traffic Command and Control Centre under Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Public Security.

Mark Stevenson, a professor from the George Institute for International Health, said the project aimed to provide valuable data to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by road traffic accidents.

"In low income countries, road traffic injuries are expected to increase by 80 per cent by 2030. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in China," Stevenson said in Guangzhou during the launch ceremony for the project on Monday.

International research shows that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death in a motor vehicle crash by up to 75 per cent, according to Stevenson, who is also director of the Death and Injury Prevention Department of the George Institute for International Health.

More than 90 per cent of drivers and passengers wear seatbelts while driving, but in China only between 20 and 30 per cent of the drivers and passengers wear their belts.

Stevenson said the project hopes to increase seatbelt use by up to 20 per cent in the country within 12 months, helping prevent and reduce the number of injuries and deaths from road traffic accidents.

"Seatbelts save lives is the message we are conveying to the community," Stevenson added.

Wang Jinbiao, deputy director of the Traffic Administrative Department under the Ministry of Public Security, said the project has been launched in Guangzhou because the southern city has the largest number of road deaths among Chinese cities.

At least 1,813 persons were killed and another 12,000 were injured in traffic accidents in Guangzhou last year.

The number of deaths saw a year-on-year increase of 5.53 per cent in 2004.

Most of the city's deaths and injuries are related to victims' refusal to wear seatbelts, Wang said.

Guangzhou had 9,930 traffic accidents last year.

Up until April 19, a total of 569 people had been killed in road traffic accidents in Guangzhou this year.

To promote seatbelt use, the Guangzhou Traffic Administration has considered increasing the fines for those who refuse to wear seatbelts.

But an official from the municipal traffic administration refused to reveal how much they would fine rule breakers.

(China Daily 04/27/2005 page3)

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