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No leniency for violators of traffic law

[ 2009-08-05 10:55]     字号 [] [] []  
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No leniency for violators of traffic lawIn the traffic accident that killed seven people and left one seriously injured in Beijing last week, some vehicles played an important part in the death of one of the victims by blocking the emergency lane and delaying the arrival of an ambulance.

Last Tuesday, a heavy-duty truck on Beijing's Fifth Ring Road veered drastically to avoid bumping into a car that had suddenly slowed down in front. So violent was the sudden turn that the truck broke through the road divider and ended up on a lane on the opposite side of the road, crashed into three cars, killed six people and injured two.

The accident cut off the traffic on the northbound lanes, leaving cars lined up for several kilometers. But some impatient drivers took to the emergency lane to get past the accident spot and drive away to their destinations. In the process, these vehicles blocked the way of the approaching ambulances and delayed the transportation of the injured to hospital. One of the injured died soon after reaching hospital.

The motorists' behavior is most outrageous. They were not ignorant of the consequence of blocking the emergency lane but they still did so. They were selfish and heartless! To say that they were accessory to the killing of the injured would not be an exaggeration.

Such ugly behaviors can be seen everywhere on the roads. Whenever there is a traffic jam, one can see motorists trying to squeeze their way ahead by driving through the emergency or the bicycle lane, or a zebra belt. In most cases, such illegal maneuverings only result in a meaningless advance of a few dozen meters for the selfish motorist. But such an action could prove costly - a life could be lost because of the life-saving passage being blocked.

No leniency for violators of traffic law

Such people, who have no scruples and who can sacrifice other people's lives for personal interest, should be punished severely.

Unfortunately, there seems to be little action from the road authorities to curb such behaviors. Traffic police might have adopted some measures but the control must have been too weak to be effective, for there are still many drivers willing and daring to drive illegally through emergency lanes.

Besides the weak management of the traffic authorities, lenient punishment is the other major reason why violation of traffic rules is so rampant. The fine for driving on an emergency lane is 200 yuan ($28) in China. That sum is not heavy enough to deter motorists from risking it, for the chance of being caught is slim.

To compare the traffic management between China and other countries, I searched for information on the Internet and found that the penalty for driving in an emergency lane in certain Western countries is not significantly heavier than that in China.

What is different, however, is that traffic management in Western countries is more mature and their citizens have a stronger sense of respect for the law. Deliberate violation of traffic laws is far less rampant.

In China, it has been only a few years since people began owning cars. Road ethics is far from being common sense among the increasing number of motorists. And so rapid has been the increase in the number of vehicles and so crowded are the roads in Chinese cities that existing number of traffic policemen are far from enough to stop all traffic violations. Hence, the chance of violators being caught is slim. In other words, the cost of violating traffic laws is low. That is why so many people dare to run the risk.

Therefore, drastically raising the fine for traffic violations is not without reason. And it definitely will work. Just imagine a penalty of 2,000 yuan for driving on an emergency lane.

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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