Mainland police in U-turn on new yellow traffic light rule

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 January, 2013, 6:28am

Mainland police have backed down from a controversial traffic regulation in which drivers could be fined and penalised for running yellow lights as if they had been red.

The Ministry of Public Security announced yesterday that drivers who ignore yellow traffic lights would receive only warnings and "education". No penalty would be given.

The announcement appears to be a compromise after the new traffic light rule that took effect on New Year's Day sparked a national outcry. Under the regulations, drivers caught passing through a yellow light could be fined and given six demerit points on their licence, or halfway to a suspension.

The ministry said its announcement was a response to the strong public reaction and promised to solicit public opinion before making further decisions about the rule.

Some drivers and internet users contended that the rules ran contrary to the laws of physics, as vehicles travelling at normal speeds simply cannot stop within seconds of seeing a yellow light. Some also argued the change could cause more accidents if drivers began stopping abruptly before yellow lights.

Beijing University professor Wu Bihu also openly challenged the ministry to provide its legal grounding for the rule.

But some internet users had mixed feelings about yesterday's announcement.

"Should I praise the Ministry of Public Security for listening to good advice or should I criticise it for implementing a rule in such an unserious manner?" one microblogger wrote.

There are more than 250,000 road traffic fatalities in China every year by some estimates, which would make road accidents the country's leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the World Health Organisation.