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Distracted driving is major accident cause

By Shi Xiaofeng in Hangzhou | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-08-25 08:12

Distracted driving, including using a cellphone behind the wheel, is the major cause of car accidents in Zhejiang province, according to the Zhejiang Public Security Department's traffic control bureau.

A total of 1,855 people died in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2016 in the province, accounting for 44.3 percent of total traffic deaths. Drunken driving accounted for 1.6 percent and speeding 2.7 percent, according to a report, which was released this month by the bureau.

The report said that using a bluetooth headset or a car phone does not eliminate risk.

Other causes of accidents include traffic light violations-by pedestrians and drivers.

Using a cellphone while driving is prohibited in China. Violators can be fined 200 yuan ($29) and lose two points on their driver's license. A driver who loses 12 points in a year must reapply for a license.

From January to July this year, police in Zhejiang handled 148,000 cases involving cellphone use while driving.

Wu Lei, a resident in Hangzhou who has had his driver's license for eight years, acknowledged that he has sometimes violated the rule.

"Of course I know it is not right to use the phone while driving, but when my boss or my clients call me, I have to answer it. Hanging up the phone or ignoring the call is impolite," Wu said.

According to the report, countries such as Singapore, Britain, Japan and France have enacted strict punishments against distracted driving, even making it a criminal offense.

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