Smartphones, social media blamed for Beijing traffic jams

Drivers talking to friends on Wechat or snapping photos and posting messages on Weibo were a major cause of road accidents during the golden week holiday

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 2:07pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 2:56pm

Distracted Beijing drivers playing with their smartphones were the primary cause of road accidents and traffic jams during the “golden week” holiday, said traffic authorities in the Chinese capital.

Drivers talking to friends on Wechat, a popular instant messaging platform, or snapping photos and posting messages on Weibo while driving had resulted in poor driving and collisions, according to authorities.

Officials arrived at the conclusion after analysing accident data collected by traffic police over the past week, said a Beijing Daily report.

As holidaymakers returned home on Monday, the last day of the one-week holiday, Beijing experienced severe traffic jams.

At one point in the afternoon, 20 kilometres of roads were congested, said traffic police.

“I moved one kilometre in two hours,” a stranded driver wrote on Weibo.

Beijing is notorious for traffic jams that can sometimes remain gridlocked for hours and even days. The city is reported to be considering charging drivers a "congestion fee" to help reduce the number of road users.