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Chinese legislators mull changes to traffic accident compensation
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10:25, November 20, 2007

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Chinese lawmakers are consulting drivers, the police and passengers about amending a controversial section of the road law that deals with compensation for accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.

The Commission of Legislative Affairs under the Standing Committee of National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislative body, heard from drivers from two city bus companies and two big taxi companies here Monday.

At issue is the 76th section of the law, which regulates who pays the compensation for loss of life or property in traffic accidents, and how it will be paid.

All drivers in China must carry accident insurance, but the policies do not always cover all the compensation paid out after an accident. Drivers complain that the current law favors pedestrians and cyclists, according to a press release issued by the NPC commission.

The law now requires the driver to cover any losses beyond the ceiling provided by the insurer, when a pedestrian or cyclist is involved. But the driver's liability can be reduced if he can prove that the pedestrian or cyclist was at fault.

"Most drivers prefer that [they] pay no compensation if they did not break the law and the accident was caused by the pedestrian or cyclist," the press release said.

A draft amendment sent to the NPC Standing Committee for discussion in October would reduce drivers' liability. For instance, if a pedestrian or cyclist bears the main responsibility for an accident, the driver will bear 40 percent of compensation liability. If the pedestrian or cyclist is determined to be fully responsible for the accident, the driver's liability is limited to 10 percent.

"Some drivers can accept 10 percent," the statement said.

The commission consulted the police, judges and the administration on road transportation on Sunday.

"Some held that, on this item, the law should give up the principle of no-fault liability (strict liability), as it is society rather than the driver that shall bear the responsibility of protecting the safety of citizens," said a press release issued after the meeting.

The commission plans a meeting with residents as well, but the date of that event has not yet been announced.

In the first ten months of this year, there were 267,289 reported traffic accidents in China, which claimed 64,003 lives.

Source: Xinhua

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