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Nation gets serious about seatbelt use

By Xin Dingding and Zhi Yun (China Daily)

08:41, March 29, 2012

Traffic authorities have mounted a campaign to get people to use seatbelts to reduce fatalities on the road.

A campaign initiated by three central government agencies requires that all commercial motor vehicles that use expressways have seatbelts installed.

Currently, only 30 percent of commercial motor vehicles of passenger transport have seatbelts, according to the Ministry of Transport, one of the organizers.

The campaign, lasting through the end of the year, will also include educating the public on passengers' better chance of surviving crashes when they wear seatbelts.

Seatbelt use will be checked on long-haul buses before they can depart.

Inspections by the ministries of transport and public security will also check vehicles on highways. No penalties have been set yet for not using seatbelts. The campaign follows a string of fatal road accidents.

Last year, there were two deadly road accidents that each killed more than 30 people, something that "has not happened in years", Feng Zhenglin, deputy minister of transport, said at a televised announcement of the seatbelt initiative on Wednesday.

In the first three months of this year, there were five road accidents that killed more than 10 people each.

"We used to organize short-term inspections and accidents caused by vehicle overloading or driver fatigue were reduced, but many lasting problems have not been addressed," he said.

Those problems include that many long-haul bus drivers have no strong awareness of safety, and many vehicles lack safety equipment such as seatbelts.

Also, "passengers basically have no consciousness that they should wear a seatbelt," he said.

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