China in 'car era' calls for civilized driving

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, December 13, 2010
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About 20 years ago, owning a car was only a dream to many Chinese. Nowadays when more people have their own cars, the "dream" has become a "nightmare" .

Gu Qingyang, post office chief of Luoning County of central China' s Henan Province, was arrested after he, under the influence of alcohol, hit five teenagers on December 5 before trying to escape.

The incident soon sparked a new round of public outrage after a flurry of traffic accidents aroused people' s concern about road safety.

"The economic growth in China is mismatched with civilization," said Xia Xueluan, a sociologist with Pekin University.

"As cars become popularized, the development of a social ethic lags behind," he explained, calling for civilized driving.

China had 199 million motor vehicles on its roads as of the end of September, including 85 million cars, according to the Traffic Management Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security.

The number of cars is soaring at an astonishing rate. In November, about 1.28 million passenger vehicles were sold in China, up 27 percent from the corresponding period last year.

On the other hand, violations of traffic regulations are frequent, with the most extreme cases being speeding, drunk driving and hit-and-run accidents.

A drunk 22-year-old hit-and-run driver gained nationwide notoriety by shouting "Sue me if you dare, my father is Li Gang". The sentence became so popular that netizens worked it into poetry and doggerel.

In October, a college student in Xi' an of Shaanxi Province was condemned and cursed after he killed a woman he hit with a car for fear that this "peasant woman would be hard to deal with" .

The latest case was also on December 5, when a man in a police uniform hit a retired doctor with his red sedan in Changchun, capital of northeastern Jilin Province. Instead of bringing her to a hospital, he then assaulted her, shouting, "I have money. I give money if I kill you." Hundreds of local residents surrounded him so he could not run away. A furious man even dropped a box of beverages from a building onto his car.

The irresponsibility of drivers makes the work of traffic police more difficult.

Bao Baode has been working as a traffic police officer in Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia, for some 20 years.

"In the past three years, although more people could afford a car, their legal awareness and moral standards were not high enough," he said.

Bao recalled that once when he was trying to stop a car as it jumped a red light, the driver suddenly sped up. Bao' s colleague was hit and injured.

The case is by no means exceptional. In 2008, a police officer was hailed as the "coolest traffic policeman" as he stood in front of a car to stop it while the latter threatened for several times to hit him and run away.

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