Law puts onus on drivers to be alert
( 2003-10-24 01:15) (China Daily)
Motorists in China could soon be held responsible if they hit a pedestrian - even if they are not at fault.
Under a draft law being deliberated by China's top legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC), motorists would be held liable for any traffic accident with a pedestrian.
This would apply even if the pedestrian violates traffic rules and causes the accident.
If a driver does all he or she can do to avoid the accident, his or her responsibility would be diminished, but not eliminated.
The draft is currently appearing for the fourth time at the fifth session of the 10th NPC Standing Committee, which runs until Tuesday next week in Beijing.
Committee members will decide whether to pass the draft on the last day of the session. If it is approved, it will take effect in May next year.
Before the draft law evolved, several local authorities - such as those in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chongqing - had developed regulations which cleared motorists of responsibility if they were not at fault in an accident.
NPC member Jiang Ying said the draft law would overrule these local regulations, placing pedestrians' right to life over motorists' right of way.
The draft law also stipulates that "motor-driven vehicles" should give way to pedestrians on zebra crossings and where there are no traffic signals.
But many NPC members also said pedestrians and cyclists should pay more attention to the traffic rules, noting many people's awareness of road safety had much to be desired.
The draft law also allows motorists to get technical checks done on their vehicles by providing only two documents - car registration papers and mandatory third party insurance bill.
It does away with the need for other requirements, such as parking certificates, sometimes demanded by traffic authorities.
Hu Guangbao, a member of the Commission of Legislative Affairs under the NPC, said this clause was only recently added, in the fourth version of the draft law.
Some NPC members had argued that whether a car had a parking certificate was irrelevant to how roadworthy it was and to demand such a document unduely burdened car owners.
In several cities around China such as Beijing, parking certificates cost 500 yuan to 1,000 yuan (US$60 to US$121). Car owners had been asked to show several administrative certificates to have the roadworthiness of their vehicles checked, a great headache for them, many NPC members complained.
The national legislators, who began their bi-monthly session yesterday, will also review draft legislation on securities investment funds, banking supervision, and draft amendments of the Law on the People's Bank of China and the Law on Commercial Banks during their week-long session.
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