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Serious traffic accidents on the increase
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Twenty-seven serious traffic accidents have taken place in the country so far this year, exceeding the total number for the whole year last year, the national transportation authority said yesterday.

Wang Jinbiao, deputy director of the traffic administrative department under the Ministry of Public Security, said the government will take a tougher stance against bus and truck drivers, cause of most of the accidents.

Up to yesterday the number of accidents defined as serious, in which more than 10 people are killed in any one accident, was 27.

For the whole of last year it was 26, Wang said on the official website of the central government.

"We are very concerned about the situation," he said.

The ministry launched a nationwide road safety campaign in September.

The country may witness more accidents in the winter as road conditions become dangerous, and bus drivers overload their vehicles to accommodate as many travelers as possible during Spring Festival, Wang said.

"Overloading, rash driving and slippery roads have led to such accidents recently," Wang said.

The number of commercial and public vehicles increased more than 5 percent last year, he said.

On Saturday, a bus carrying 36 passengers flipped over in Sog county, Tibet autonomous region, killing 18 and injuring 29, the website of the State Administration of Work Safety said yesterday.

On the same day, another bus with 56 passengers skidded and overturned on an icy road in Yilan county, Heilongjiang province, killing 11 and injuring 39.

Ministry statistics show there was a 7 percent increase in the issuance of new driving licenses nationwide last year, and more than 45 percent of the country's drivers have less than three years' experience.

Wang said more advanced traffic surveillance systems will be installed on expressways.

So far this year, there have been more than 215,000 traffic accidents.

About 57,000 peoplehave lost their lives and more than 250,000 were injured.

Government figures show there were more than 327,206 accidents last year in which 81,000 people died and 380,000 were injured in the country.

(China Daily November 18, 2008)

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