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Safety on the roads

(China Daily)

10:55, February 06, 2013

The fatal traffic accidents in the past few days should sound an alarm about the country's lax traffic safety system and call for more actions to guarantee nationwide road safety for the upcoming travel peak in the country's countdown to the Lunar New Year.

An expressway viaduct collapsed in central Henan province on Friday morning after a lorry laden with fireworks exploded while crossing it. Ten people died and 11 others were injured. On the afternoon of the same day, a coach carrying 29 people went off the road and rolled 100 meters down a slope in southwestern Sichuan province, killing 11 people and injuring 18 others. It was followed by another deadly accident only hours later in which 18 people were killed and 34 others injured when an overloaded bus crashed into a deep valley in northwestern Gansu province.

This was not the end to such tragedies. A day later, a fatal accident in Guizhou province, in which an overloaded bus overturned, left 12 dead and 22 injured. On the same day, an overloaded vehicle tumbled down a valley in Daxin, in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, killing seven and injuring 12.

We can only hope these cold figures are the end to the death toll and no new figures will emerge as the country gears up for the annual Spring Festival holiday, a period where the number of traffic accidents always rises due to the lack of adequate safety measures proportionate to the traffic pressure.

With so many lives lost, there should be more effective enforcement of the traffic rules and regulations so that people drive in a responsible manner.

The deadly traffic accidents were not unavoidable given that they were all caused by speeding, overloading, fatigue, drunk en driving, or other bad driving habits. These malpractices could have been detected and stopped in a timely manner if there was a stricter road safety system in place and harsher punishments were meted out to those breaking the rules.

The estimated 3.41 billion trips during this year's Spring Festival travel rush, along with the rain, snow and lower temperatures that are expected to sweep across a vast swathe of China's central and eastern regions in the coming days, mean traffic administration workers should make huge sacrifices of their personal time and work around the clock to improve the safety of the sprawling national road network.

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