The worst traffic incident during this National Day holiday season has caused a nationwide crackdown on dangerous driving.
Driving while drowsy, speeding and driving overloaded vehicles will be strictly monitored, according to a circular issued yesterday by the Work Safety Committee Office of the State Council.
If passenger vehicles are overloaded, the responsible parties will be severely punished, it said.
Seventeen people onboard an overloaded bus were killed in Hunan province on Friday, including an 87-year-old man and a newborn baby. The 30-seater private coach was carrying 71 passengers in Qiyang county, central China's Hunan province. All survivors were injured.
A preliminary investigation by the local government showed that a combination of overloading, brake failure and bad road conditions caused the fatal accident.
An official working in the Traffic Police Brigade of Qiyang county, who declined to be named, told China Daily yesterday that nearly all of the 90 police officers in his brigade are now on the road checking vehicles, particularly those that are overloaded.
The eight-day National Day Holiday season, which overlaps with this year's Mid-Autumn Festival, attracted more Chinese people than ever to travel rather than stay at home, according to the National Tourism Administration.
The outing spree across the country inevitably put stress on traffic conditions and could have increased the possibility of accidents, according to the administration.
A passenger bus in Chongqing suddenly caught on fire on Sunday when it was heading to the airport, according to the Chongqing-based cqnews.net. The incident remains under investigation.
A truck carrying poisonous chemicals turned on its side in Shandong province when it was driving on the expressway between Heze and Jinan on Saturday, Qilu Evening News reported. No fatalities resulted from the two incidents.
The circular calls on local traffic police across the country for a higher sense of road safety. For transportation companies with records of drivers overloading or speeding trucks, the firms' licenses will be terminated if they do not pay attention to potential dangers caused by their vehicles or their drivers' erratic driving.
In Tianjin, overloaded vehicles and those cargos weighing over 55 tons will no longer be allowed to enter the city's downtown areas by way of a new regulation by the municipal government, according to the Xinhua News Agency.