Culture of aggression blamed for mainland roads carnage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 12:00am

Sunday's bus crash was another example of the growing number of fatal accidents through careless driving on the mainland.

Aggressive and bad behaviour by drivers, coupled with poor vehicle maintenance were behind road accidents that claimed the lives of tens of thousands each year, authorities said.

Sichuan police have arrested the driver of the car who was reported to have crashed head-on into the tourist bus on Sunday. He has been accused of speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road.

On the same day in a rural part of Hubei province, a bus ran off the road and rolled 20 metres into a gorge, killing five people and injuring 16, four of them critically.

These two cases are only two in a long list of tragedies that occur on mainland roads each year.

According to China News Service statistics, 478 people died in Sichuan road accidents last month alone. Guangdong's roads claimed 791 lives in June.

However, traffic police in both provinces claim the number of deaths is down on last year because of tougher penalties for reckless driving.

Nationwide, 94,000 people died in traffic accidents on the mainland last year and 419,000 were injured, according to statistics from the Ministry of Public Security.

Authorities in Beijing blame reckless driving for most accidents. According to traffic authorities, almost half the capital's 1,151 lorry or heavy transport companies have been cited for rude or improper driving, including speeding.

On highways, where there is less police supervision, careless or dangerous behaviour makes an already bad situation worse because many buses or trucks are overloaded and in poor condition, authorities said.

In April, a 42-seater bus with more than 60 people on board plunged 31 metres down an embankment into a river in Guangxi province. Thirteen people died and most of the others were injured. In another accident last month, an over-tired long-distance bus driver drove his 29-seater bus into a river in Xinjiang region's Xinhe county. Thirty-two of the 42 people on the bus drowned.

In an attempt to crack down on the road deaths, traffic police have started enforcing a vehicle data recorder law. This especially applies to long-distance buses and trucks. These devices record a vehicle's speed, its general condition and the hours of operation.