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New traffic law under fire in Beijing
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-10 10:43

A new traffic law that forces drivers to pay compensation to any pedestrian or non-motorized vehicle involved in a traffic accidents has come under fire from Beijing residents.

Even the first case since the Road Traffic Safety Law went in force has been the subject of controversy.

A driver who killed a female pedestrian when she crossed Beijing's Second Ring Road was ordered by the local traffic administrative authority to pay compensation of 200,000 yuan (US$24,000).

Pedestrians are forbidden to walk on the high-speed freeway.

The driver refused to pay the compensation and the woman's husband took him to court.

No decision has been made yet.

The Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress (BMPC) yesterday began to gather opinions from the public over the Road Traffic Safety Law, which went into effective on May 1 throughout the country.

Nearly 800 responses came in yesterday, including 300 telephone calls and 500 e-mails and online notes, said sources with the BMPC Standing Committee, the capital city's legislative body.

"The woman's behaviour was totally irresponsible - not only did she risk her own life, she violated the rights of others," net surfer Nifeng Feixing said.

The aim of the regulation was to protect the interests of the lower-paid, even if they are found to be responsible for the accident, said sources with the BMPC.

"It is too simple-minded to decide that car drivers are richer and enjoy a better social status than pedestrians or cyclists," another website respondent said. "It should not be a contradiction between justice and humanity.

"It is so unfair. Any pedestrian could also be a driver.

"All this will do is to cause another tragedy out of the first one. Hardly justice."

Although the regulation has received strong objections, sources with the BMPC Standing Committee said since it is now law, the local administration could not disobey it.

Calls for people's points of view will end on Sunday.

Local legislators will continue discussing how the law will be implemented in Beijing.

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