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Accident law leaves a lot to be desired

[ 2009-07-01 15:57]     字号 [] [] []  
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Accident law leaves a lot to be desiredIf a man riding a tricycle bumps into your car parked legally on the roadside and dies of the injury sustained, and police tell you that you should pay part compensation to the man's family, what would you think?

Don't be quick to scream "unfair!" Read Article 76 of the Road Traffic Safety Law and you will know you are legally liable to pay the compensation.

According to the law, "when an accident occurs involving a motor vehicle and a non-motor vehicle or a pedestrian and there is evidence proving that the non-motor vehicle or the pedestrian is fully responsible for the accident, the motor vehicle party shall bear a no more than 10 percent responsibility for the compensation".

But even that amount of penalty can be painful for a motorist questioning the fairness of the law.

The Beijing Evening News reported on Monday that a woman who had parked her car in a legal roadside parking lot was ordered to pay compensation for the death of a man who bumped his tricycle into the car. He died of his injuries in a hospital later. The woman posted her doubts over the law on an Internet forum to seek help from netizens. "I was not in the car and I didn't do anything wrong. Why should I pay for somebody else's fault?" she said.

I would have asked the same question if I were the owner of the car. But a judge interviewed by the Beijing Evening News reporter said the woman should pay the compensation, "because the Road Traffic Safety Law does not exempt the motor vehicle party from liability in (the event of) an accident involving a motor vehicle and a pedestrian unless the pedestrian causes the accident deliberately".

Ever since its enactment in May 2004, the Road Traffic Safety Law has been mired in controversy. Before being revised in December 2007, the original version of the 76th article of the law appeared even more "unreasonable". It ruled: "If an accident occurs between a motor vehicle and a non-motorized vehicle or a pedestrian, the motor vehicle party shall bear the responsibility; but the party's responsibility shall decrease if there is evidence to prove that the non-motorized vehicle or pedestrian has violated the Road Traffic Safety Law and the driver of the motor vehicle has taken necessary measures during the accident."

Many people questioned the rationality of the law. They argued that the 76th article of the law amounted to a statement that a car owner is destined to be the offender from the moment he/she buys the car.

The aforementioned judge explained that the law was based on the General Rules of Civil Law, which states that a motor vehicle is a high-speed moving object and its operation is highly hazardous, and therefore its driver should bear a non-fault liability when the vehicle causes damage to other people.

Here comes a question. In the woman's case, her car was parked on the roadside. It was not a "high-speed moving object" and therefore not "hazardous" at all. Isn't it ridiculous to blame the car owner when the accident was caused by the tricycle rider? The problem lies with the 76th article of the law, both in its original version and revision, which does not specify the difference between a moving vehicle and one that is parked when an accident involving it occurs.

It was believed that the new Road Traffic Safety Law was the result of China's progress toward "human-oriented governance by law" introduced by "legal experts" from Western countries. Of course, we should salute these experts for their contribution to our country's progress.

But I also hope they are more meticulous in drafting laws, and do not leave loopholes. They should be more careful while learning from Western statutes. For example, they could learn from their American colleagues who would explain the Colorado state law on traffic accidents: "A traffic accident is defined as unintentional damage or injury caused by the movement of a vehicle or its load."

Note the word "movement".

E-mail: liushinan@chinadaily.com.cn

About the author:

刘式南 高级编辑。1968年毕业于武汉华中师范学院(现华中师范大学)英文系。1982年毕业于北京体育学院(现北京体育大学)研究生院体育情报专业。1982年进入中国日报社,先后担任体育记者、时政记者、国际新闻编辑、要闻版责任编辑、发稿部主任、《上海英文星报》总编辑、《中国商业周刊》总编辑等职。现任《中国日报》总编辑助理及专栏作家。1997年获国务院“特殊贡献专家政府津贴”。2000年被中华全国新闻工作者协会授予“全国百佳新闻工作者”称号。2006年获中国新闻奖二等奖(编辑)。


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